1 John 3:2
Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.
A Present ReligionC. H. Spurgeon.1 John 3:2
By and ByC. H. Spurgeon.1 John 3:2
Future BlessednessT. Manton, D. D.1 John 3:2
Future LifeJ. A. Alexander, D. D.1 John 3:2
Future State of ChristiansN. Emmons, D. D.1 John 3:2
HeavenA. P. Peabody.1 John 3:2
Life and Character in GodA. R. Cocke, D. D.1 John 3:2
Love's Ultimate IntentionsC. Clemance, D. D.1 John 3:2
Man's Capability of Future Glory and BlessednessJ. Hawes, D. D.1 John 3:2
Now Sons, Though SufferersS. Martin.1 John 3:2
Of the Happiness of Good Men in the Future StateAbp. Tillotson.1 John 3:2
Our Ignorance and Our Knowledge of the Future StateH. Melvill, B. D.1 John 3:2
Our Imperfect Knowledge of the FutureH. W. Beecher.1 John 3:2
Our Knowledge of Heaven SmallG. Payson.1 John 3:2
Progress of ManhoodJ. Parker, D. D.1 John 3:2
Sonship the Foreshadowing of HeavenM. R. Vincent, D. D.1 John 3:2
The Beatific VisionC. H. Spurgeon.1 John 3:2
The Blessed Vision of ChristQuoted by Dr. Hanford.1 John 3:2
The Eternal Future Clear Only in ChristJohn Ker, D. D.1 John 3:2
The Final TransgurationR. W. Hamilton, LL. D.1 John 3:2
The Glory of Divine SonshipJ. H. Hill.1 John 3:2
The Manifestations of ChristG. Calthrop, M. A.1 John 3:2
The Possessions and Prospects of BelieversW. M. Statham, M. A.1 John 3:2
The Present and the Future of Christian LifeD. E. Ford.1 John 3:2
The Present Condition and Future Prospects of BelieversW. Welsh.1 John 3:2
The Purifying HopeCharles Kingsley1 John 3:2
The Spirituality of the Beatific VisionW. Reeves, M. A.1 John 3:2
The Transforming Power of the Revelation of GodT. T. Munger.1 John 3:2
The Two TransfigurationsT. G. Selby.1 John 3:2
The Unrevealed Future of the Sons of GodA. Maclaren, D. D.1 John 3:2
Transfiguration by Sight of Christ1 John 3:2
Transformations1 John 3:2
What We Shall BeCanon Scott Holland.1 John 3:2
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
The Present and the Future of the GoodW. Jones 1 John 3:2, 3

Beloved, now are we children of God, etc. Here is -

I. A GLORIOUS FACT OF PRESENT EXPERIENCE. "Beloved, now are we children of God."

1. As sharing in his life.

2. As morally resembling him

3. As possessing the filial spirit.

II. A GRACIOUS MYSTERY AS TO OUR FUTURE CONDITION. "And it is not yet made manifest what we shall be." Ebrard: "While we are already God's children, we are nevertheless yet in the dark as to the nature of our future condition."

1. The mode of our being in the future is at present a mystery to us. We know that the soul exists consciously and at once after passing from our present mode of life. We infer this from such Scriptures as these: "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43); "We are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8); "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.... Having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better" (Philippians 1:21, 23). But how the soul exists when it has departed from the "natural body," or what is its mode of existence, we know not. At present the body is the organ and instrument of the soul. Does the soul after death require some vehicle of expression, some instrument of action? If so, of what kind will these be? Or will the soul be independent of such things? What is the clothing (2 Corinthians 5:2-4) which awaits the soul when it passes from the earthly house of this tabernacle? Of these things we know nothing. "It is not yet made manifest what we shall be."

2. The exaltation of our being in the future is at present a mystery to us. The glory of our future being and condition is hidden from us as yet. What developments of being await us, to what services God will appoint us, with what honours he will crown us in the hereafter, - of these things we are altogether ignorant. Presumptuous are they who speak of the details of the condition and circumstances and occupations of the children of God after death. They who knew something of these things and were recalled to this life maintained unbroken silence concerning them (Luke 7:11-16; John 11:38-44). Paul was caught up into Paradise, but he said that it was not lawful to utter what he heard there (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). Wisely and graciously God has left a veil over our future condition and circumstances. Mystery in these things is perhaps inevitable. Probably in our present condition we have no symbols by which the future glories could be revealed unto us. Our languages could not describe them. Music, as we have it, could not express them. Painting could not set them forth. Moreover, mystery in these things is merciful. We could not bear the revelation of the bright future, and continue in the faithful and patient performance of our duties in the present. There is one sense in which the children of God will ever say, "It is not yet made manifest what we shall be." Their progress will be interminable. The development of their being and blessedness will never come to an end.

III. A GRAND ASSURANCE AS TO OUR FUTURE CONDITION. "We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is." (It seems to us that the rendering should be, "if it shall be manifested." But the chief points of the apostle's teaching are the same whether, we translate, "if it" or "if he shall be manifested.") Here is an assurance:

1. Of moral assimilation to God in Christ. "We shall be like him." Like him in character and sympathies and aims. Like him too, in some respects, corporeally; for he "shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory" (Philippians 3:21).

2. Of the vision of God in Christ. "For we shall see him even as he is." Some measure of likeness to him is indispensable to our seeing him. Spiritual resemblance to him qualifies the soul to see him even as he is. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." But the truth here is that the vision of God in Christ will perfect the likeness of his children unto him. Ebrard: "The being like unto God will be effected by the beholding of God." The vision of God is transforming in its effect. After Moses had been with the Lord forty days and forty nights upon Mount Sinai, when he came down from the mount the skin of his face shone, and the people were afraid to come nigh him (Exodus 34:29-35). "We all, with unveiled face reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18). By the operation of the same principle, when the children of God see him as he is they will become like unto him. How blessed and inspiring is this assurance! To see him and to be like him has been the dearest hope of the noblest souls. Thus David, "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness," etc. (Psalm 18:15); and St. Paul, "Having the desire to depart and be with Christ;" and St. John, "The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be therein; and his servants shall do him service; and they shall see his face." "We shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is."

IV. A SALUTARY INFLUENCE OF OUR HOPE FOR THE FUTURE ON OUR CONDITION IN THE PRESENT. "And every one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself," etc.

1. The character of this hope. It is the assured expectation and the sincere desire of the vision of God in Christ, and of complete moral assimilation to him.

2. The ground of this hope. "This hope set on him." On what he has promised, and on what he is, his children base their great hope. "God is not a man, that he should lie," etc. (Numbers 23:19); "In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal" (Titus 1:2).

3. The influence of this hope. "Purifieth himself, even as he is pure." It is clearly implied that, while in this world, the children of God need moral purification. They are not yet entirely freed from sin, and sin pollutes the soul. Their sanctification is not yet perfected. But the precious and assured hope which they cherish stimulates them to seek for perfect moral purity. To indulge in sin, or to cease to strive after holiness, would be virtually to renounce their hope. They endeavour to attain to a holiness like unto that of Christ - to be pure as he is pure. His purity is the pattern of theirs. So that we have here a test of Christian character. Does our religion exert a sanctifying power in our hearts and lives?

"O Living Will, that shalt endure
When all that seems shall suffer shock,
Rise in the spiritual rock,
Flow through our deeds and make them pure?"

(Tennyson.) - W.J.

Beloved, now are we the sons of God
The word "now" is to me the most prominent word in the text, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." They who love religion love a present thing. The Christian who really seeks salvation will never be happy unless he can say, "Now am I a child of God." That word "now" which is the sinners warning is to the Christian his greatest delight.

I. I shall commence by endeavouring to show that religion must be a thing of the present, because THE PRESENT HAS SUCH INTIMATE CONNECTIONS WITH THE FUTURE. We are told in Scripture that this life is a seed time, and the future is the harvest, "He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting." But again, this life is always said in Scripture to be a preparation for the life to come. "Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel." This life is as the vestibule of the king's court, we must put our shoes from off our feet; we must wash our garments and make ourselves ready to enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb. How are we saved? All through Scripture we are told we are saved by faith, except in one passage, wherein it is said, we are saved by hope. Now note how certain it is that religion must be a present thing if we are saved by faith, because faith anal hope cannot live in another world. "What a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?"

II. In the second place, as I have shown the connection between the present and the future, let me use another illustration to show THE IMPORTANCE OF A PRESENT SALVATION. Salvation is a thing which brings present blessings. "Unto them which are saved, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." He does not say to them who shall be saved, but to them which are saved. We know too that justification is a present blessing — "there is therefore now no condemnation." Adoption is a present blessing, for it says, "Now are we the sons of God," we know also that sanctification is a present blessing, for the apostle addresses himself to "the saints who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called." All the blessings of the new covenant are spoken of in the present tense, because with the exception of eternal glory in heaven, they are all to be enjoyed here. A man may know in this life, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he is accepted in Christ Jesus. Yet I am inclined to think that the worldly man most of all objects to present religion because he does not like its duties. Men will not direct a single eye to religion, because it curtails license and entails duties. And this, I think, proves that religion is a present thing, because the duties of religion cannot be practised in another world, they must be practised here. Now, what are the duties of religion? hi the first place, here are its active duties, which a man should do between man and man, to walk soberly and righteously and uprightly in the midst of an evil generation. Lightly as some people speak about morality, there is no true religion where there is no morality. You have hard struggles to pass through life. Sometimes you have been driven to a great extremity, and whether you would succeed or not seemed to hang upon a thread. Has not your religion been a joy to you in your difficulties? Has it not calmed your minds? When you have been fretted and troubled about worldly things, have you not found in a pleasant thing to enter your closet, and shut to the door, and tell your Father in secret all your cares? And oh, ye that are rich, cannot you bear the same testimony, if you have loved the blaster? What had all your riches been to you without a Saviour? I fear that there are a great many of you who will say, "Well, I care nothing at all about religion; it is for no avail to me!" No, and it is very probable that you will not care about it until it shall be too late to care.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

In every true economy of life there is a concealed side. This fact grows partly out of the nature of the case, and is partly a dictate of wisdom. This fact of concealment, and these two reasons for it, are both apparent in God's dealing with men. Divine revelation is the exposed side of a Divine economy which reaches back into darkness. Some things God could not tell us, because we could not understand them. Other things are equally hidden, because He does not see fit to reveal them. God does not ignore nor for bid men's natural curiosity to know what is hidden. In many cases, indeed, He uses it in the interest of wider knowledge. The advancement of knowledge would come to a stop if all men were simply content to accept the unknown as unknowable. At the same time He does set a limit to human knowledge in certain directions: but in all such cases God puts His revelation in such a relation to what is unknown, as to quiet the restlessness of the curious and searching spirit when it reaches the limit of knowledge. He assures us concerning what He does not reveal by what He does reveal. He gives us certain foreshadowings of our future in our present. First, the concealment. What we are to be hereafter is not yet manifested. Christ reveals the fact of immortality but tells us little or nothing about the outward conditions of immortality. A Christian must frankly accept this ignorance. By the terms of his Christian covenant he engages to walk by faith and not by sight. Still, there is revelation as well as concealment. It doth not yet appear, but we know something. And as we study what is revealed to us, we begin to see that the concealment and ignorance which wait on this subject are not arbitrary, but are in the interest of our knowledge on another side, and are intended to direct our researches into another and more profitable channel. "It doth not yet appear" — not where we shall be, or in what circumstances we shall be — but "it doth not appear what we shall be": only we know that we shall be like God. That is the great, the only point which concerns us as respects the future life. To be like God will be heaven. To be unlike God will be perdition. Character creates its own environment. On this side we know something of the heavenly world. We know the moral laws which govern it, for they are essentially the same laws which the gospel applies here. We know the moral sentiments which pervade heaven. They are the very sentiments which the gospel is seeking to foster in us here. We know that holiness which is urged upon us here is the character of God; and that where a holy God reigns the atmosphere must be one of holiness: that if God is love, love must pervade heavens that if God is truth, truth must pervade heaven. Now, all this, you see, must exert a tremendous power upon the present life, viewed as a prelude and preparation for the life to come. If that future life is to have its essence in character and not in circumstance, it follows that character and not circumstance is the great thing here. The apostle strikes directly into this track of thought. In the first place he states the fact of concealment. Down between our speculations and dreams and the eternal reality falls an impenetrable veil. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." But he goes on to say, "You are on the right road to knowing. You are on the right road to becoming. Now are you children of God: that fact enfolds all that is to come. It is a matter of character here as in heaven. The true goal of your striving is likeness to God." Essentially we shall not be other there than here. The difference will be in degree, in maturity of development. We are children of God here, we shall be children of God there. Why, then, with all this promise, does it not appear what we shall be? Look at the promise itself and you will see the answer. The essence of the promise is, we shall be like God. Understand, not equal to God, but like God, as the finite, under the highest possible conditions, can be like the infinite. The reason for this likeness to God is given. We shall see Him as He is. This gives us the reason why it doth not yet appear what we shall be. We do not see Him as He is. We cannot so see Him here, any more than a child, in the weakness of infancy and the ignorance and perverseness of childhood can understand and appreciate the mind and character of a noble father. We cannot know what it is to be like God, because we cannot see Him as He is, and never shall, until He shall be manifested as pure spirit to purified spirits freed from the trammels of the flesh. And you will further notice the truth which the text assumes, that likeness to God comes through vision of God. We assimilate to that which we habitually contemplate, and especially so when we contemplate lovingly and enthusiastically. Thus we come to the last point of our text — the practical duty growing out of this mixed condition of ignorance and promise. For if the promise is to be fulfilled in likeness to God, if that, in short, is to constitute our heaven, and if that promise is enfolded in our present relation as children of God, then we have in that fact both a consolation and an exhortation to duty. You shall win the best of heaven by getting the best there is out of your position and relation as a child of God here. This is the logic of the gospel. Only God can purify the heart, but He enlists our service in purifying the life. In the same breath Paul tells us that God worketh in us to will and to work for His own pleasure, and bids us carry out our own salvation. Everyone that hath this hope in God is purified by the Holy Spirit, yet our text says "purifieth himself." Personal devotion calls out personal effort.

(M. R. Vincent, D. D.)

I. THE PRESENT GLORY OF THIS SONSHIP IS GREAT. The life of God in the soul is intrinsically great. Holiness and love are the principal elements of character embodied in the life of a believer; these constitute his dignity — his present glorious inheritance.

II. THE FUTURE GLORY OF THIS SONSHIP IS THE GREATEST. The model is Christ in His enthroned majesty and splendour. "Behold" the omnipotence of this love. For whom was it displayed? Angels? No, but for rebellious, ruined man — man scathed by sin, and an enemy to his Maker.

(J. H. Hill.)

I. HERE IS TRUE UNITY. "Now are we the sons of God." This makes a true Catholic Church. There may be diversity in the family features — nay, if there be intellectual life there must be; but withal there will be likeness in the King's sons, in all the wide extent of the Great Father's household.

II. HERE IS TRUE FELLOWSHIP. This, at all events, is the ideal. Till the world lasts there will be men of the logical temperament of St. Paul, the mystical temperament of St. John, the practical, sagacious temperament of St. James; but there should be true fellowship for all that: "Sons of God" swallows up all minor difficulties, all theoretical diversities.

III. HERE IS TRUE RESEMBLANCE. It is not a mere question of condition, but of character. All the lines of the Gospel are laid along the lines of life.

IV. HERE IS FUTURE PROSPECT. "It doth not yet appear." No, the time has not yet come. The cradle is not the place for judging of countenance or character in the perfect sense. The condition of the development is time. Like a tree made strong by storms, so life means contradiction, hindrance, temptation. We are waiting, as our text says, to appear. Like an unblossomed flower, the glory is hidden yet.

(W. M. Statham, M. A.)


1. We were restored to the forfeited honour of the sons of God by "being begotten again by the Father; and born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." We became the sons of God, not by natural generation, nor in virtue of any inherent power or tendency, nor in consequence of any endeavour on the part of others, but by the agency of His Spirit.

2. We may know it by the faith we exercise, if it leads us to entire dependence on Christ, and to the utmost diligence in duty. We may know it by the repentance we have experienced, if it has been heartfelt, arising from a true sense of sin, and resulting in its entire renunciations. We may know it by the feelings we cherish toward our brethren in Christ, if we love them sincerely. We may know it by the state of our affections toward God, if they are set on "those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."

3. We, indeed, may be of no account among men.


1. The confidence with which we may expect future happiness: "We know we shall be like Him." Though we are not favoured with such evidence as John enjoyed, we have all that is necessary to sustain our hope in the reality of that blessedness which God has in reserve for His children. The number and minuteness of these predictions, which have received accomplishment in the history of Jesus and the Church; the sublime nature of the doctrines of the gospel; the holy tendency of its principles; the pure morality of its precepts; the circumstances in which it was first promulgated, and the success which has attended its ministrations, convince us of the truth of that record, which reveals to us life and immortality.

2. The peculiar nature of the happiness of heaven, "We shall be like Him." It must satisfy the most enlarged desires of the immortal soul to be assimilated to Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords. Our minds, like His, shall be gloriously constituted, for, vigorous and pure, they shall be fitted for the noble pursuits and sublime contemplations of the heavens. Our character, like His, shall be glorious, for, freed from all taint of impurity, we shall be arrayed in the robe of His righteousness. Our stations, like His, shall be glorious, for we shall be near to that throne on which He sits at the right hand of His Father. Our happiness, like His, shall be glorious, for we shall possess all we can desire or be able to enjoy.

3. The means by which this assimilation to Christ shall be produced, "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." As the earth owes all that diversity of light and shade with which it is adorned, and all that variety of flower and luxuriance of fruit with which it is beautified and enriched to the agency of the sun; so shall the redeemed in heaven derive all their beauty, and all their blessedness, from the presence of Him who sits upon the throne.

4. The time when the felicity of the sons of God shall be consummated, "When He shall appear."

5. The inconceivable greatness of this future happiness, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be."

(W. Welsh.)

I. THAT WHICH IS POSITIVELY KNOWN: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God."

1. A man may know himself a Christian, as he knows himself a living soul — by personal consciousness. The fact of his conversion is the starting point in his religious history; and the incidents of Christian experience are the indications of his progress in the Divine life.

2. And, beyond the personal evidence arising from the exercise of faith in the soul, there is the witness of the Spirit in our hearts.

II. THAT WHICH IS IMPERFECTLY UNDERSTOOD. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be."

1. One thing, however, is quite sure. We shall not remain as we are. The very process of animal life is fraught with decay.

2. Another thing is equally certain; and that is, that we shall still exist.

3. But amidst all the information which God has given us on that subject, we know not the mode of our future existence, nor even its locality. How we shall see without these eyes, hear without these ears, and converse without these organs of speech, we cannot tell. Probably we shall be all intelligence, and find, to our surprise, that the senses on which we laid so great a stress, and considered so essential to our intellectual being, were but so many loopholes in our prison house of clay, through which we could sometimes catch a glimpse of surrounding objects, but by means of which we could distinguish nothing perfectly.


(D. E. Ford.)


II. THE SONS OF GOD ARE BORN AGAIN OF GOD. "Of His own will begat He us by the word of His truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures." So that the character of the disciples of Christ is a special Divine workmanship. It matters little what civilisation may be in a country, or what it may do. Every man needs regeneration.


IV. THE SONS OF GOD ARE RELATED TO ALL THE UNFALLEN AND REDEEMED OF THE OFFSPRING OF GOD. Paul makes very much of this, and I suppose that if our hearts were right we should make very much of this.

V. THE SONS OF GOD ARE HEIRS OF GOD, JOINT HEIRS WITH CHRIST, heirs to the noblest rank and title, and heirs to boundless wealth. The reason that God does not give us more of every kind of good now, is that we need the discipline of want. And until the discipline of suffering and of want has accomplished its end we have not the capacity to use the treasures and the riches which God waits to put at our disposal, and which He will put at our disposal so soon as we are educated and ready.

VI. THE SONS OF GOD ARE BEING EDUCATED BY GOD. Suitable habits are being formed, so that when they become lords of the inheritance which is in reserve for them, they shall appear to have been so educated as to be thoroughly fit for all the duties, and responsibilities, and honours, and joys of that position.


(S. Martin.)

It doth not yet appear what we shall be
I. THE PRESENT OBSCURITY OF OUR FUTURE STATE, as to the particular circumstances of that happiness which good men shall enjoy in another world. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." If one should come from a strange country, never known before, and should only tell us, in general, that it was a most delightful place, and the inhabitants a brave, and generous, and wealthy people, under the government of a wise and great king, ruling by excellent laws; and that the particular delights and advantages of it were not to be imagined by anything he knew in our own country. If we gave credit to the person that brought this relation, it would create in us a great admiration of the country described to us, and a mighty concern to see it, and live in it. But it would be a vain curiosity to reason and conjecture about the particular conveniences of it; because it would be impossible, by any discourse, to arrive at the certain knowledge of any more, than he who knew it, was pleased to tell us. This is the case as to our heavenly country.

II. Thus much we know of it in general, that IT SHALL CONSIST IN THE BLESSED VISION OF GOD. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but when He shall appear, we shall see Him as He is."

1. What is meant by seeing God. As to see the king includes the court, and all the glorious circumstances of his attendance: so to see God, does take in all that glory, and joy, and happiness, which flows from His presence.

2. What is here meant by seeing God as He is: we shall see Him as He is.(1) Our perfect knowledge of Him. Not that we are to imagine that when we come to heaven, our understanding can or shall be raised to such a pitch as to be able perfectly to comprehend the infinite nature and perfections of God. But our knowledge shall be advanced to such degrees of perfection as a finite and created understanding is capable of.(a) We shall then have an immediate knowledge of God, that which the Scripture calls seeing Him "face to face"; not at a distance, as we do now by faith: not by reflection, as we do now see Him in the creatures.(b) We shall have a far clearer knowledge of God than we have now in this life (1 Corinthians 13:12). We see Him now many times as He is not; that is, we are liable to false and mistaken conceptions of Him.(c) We shall then, likewise, have a certain knowledge of God, free from all doubts concerning Him (1 Corinthians 13:12). As God now knows us, so shall we then know Him, as to the truth and certainty of our knowledge.(2) To see God "as He is," does imply our perfect enjoyment of Him. It can be no mean thing, which the infinite wisdom, and goodness, and power of God hath designed for the final reward of those who love Him, and of those whom He loves.

3. The fitness of this metaphor, to express to us the happiness of our future state.(1) Sight is the noblest and most excellent of all our senses; and therefore the flame of the eye is the most curious of all other parts of the body, and the dearest to us, and that which we preserve with the greatest tenderness. It is the most comprehensive sense, hath the largest sphere, takes in the most objects, and discerns them at the greatest distance. It can in a moment pass from earth to heaven, and survey innumerable objects. It is the most pure, and spiritual, and quickest in its operations, and approacheth nearest to the nature of a spiritual faculty.(2) The primary and proper object of this sense is the most delightful trod of the most spiritual nature of any corporeal thing, and that is light (Proverbs 15:30; Ecclesiastes 11:7). It is the purest and most spiritual of all corporeal things, and therefore God chooseth to represent Himself by it: "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all."


1. In the immortality of our nature. In this mortal state we are not capable of that happiness which consists in the vision of God; that is, in the perfect knowledge and perpetual enjoyment of Him. The imperfection of our state, and the weakness of our faculties, cannot bear the sight of so glorious and resplendent an object, as the Divine nature and perfections are; we cannot see God and live.

2. In the purity of our souls. In this world every good man does "mortify his earthly Dud corrupt affections," and in some measure "bring them into obedience and subjection to the law of God." But still there are some relics of sin, some spots and imperfections in the holiness of the best men. But upon our entrance into the other world we shall quite "put off the old man with the affections and lusts thereof"; we shall be perfectly "delivered from this body of sin and death," and, together with this mortal nature, part with all the remainders of sin and corruption which cleave to this mortal state.


1. Likeness to God in the immortality of our nature is necessary to make us capable of the happiness of the next life; which consists in the blessed and perpetual vision and enjoyment of God.

2. Our likeness to God in the purity of our souls is necessary to make us capable of the blessed sight and enjoyment of Him in the next life.(1) It is necessary, as a condition of the thing to be performed on our part, before we can expect that God should make good the promise of eternal life and happiness to us.(2) We cannot possibly love God, nor take delight in Him, unless we be like Him in the temper and disposition of our minds.

(Abp. Tillotson.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD. It is this filial spirit which forms all the beautiful and amiable traits in the Christian character.

1. It disposes the children of God to love Him with an ardent and supreme affection.

2. It disposes them to love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and to believe in Him alone for salvation.

3. It unites all the children of God to one another.

4. It is a spirit of grace and of supplication.

5. It disposes His children to obey all His commands.


1. They are wholly unacquainted with the means by which they shall perceive either material or spiritual objects, after they have lost their bodily senses.

2. It is no less dark and mysterious how they will converse with one another, and with the heavenly hosts, after they leave these mortal bodies.

3. They must remain totally ignorant in this life, how they shall arrive in heaven, and how they shall move from place to place after they arrive there.


1. They do now know where they shall be hereafter.

2. They know in this world what manner of persons they shall be in the next.

3. They know that when they shall leave this present evil world, they shall be completely blessed.Lessons:

1. It appears from what has been said, that all the knowledge which Christians have of themselves in a future state, they wholly derive from Divine revelation.

2. We may learn from what has been said, why some Christians die in so much light and joy, and some in so much darkness and distress.

3. Christians may and ought to infer, from what has been said, the great importance of making their calling and election sure.

4. The preceding observations leave us no room be doubt, that death is always a happy event to the children of God.

5. This subject affords a source of great consolation to those who have been bereaved of near and dear Christian friends.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

I. OUR IGNORANCE. We do not suppose that God has designedly kept back from mankind clear and full intimations of the characteristics of future happiness; on the contrary, revelation is abundant in its discoveries. Parable and image are exhausted with the effort to make that portrait worthy the original; and, probably we do not, for the most part allow our knowledge to keep pace with God's revelation of the future. But when you come to the point of what we ourselves shall be, we frankly admit that we have but scanty information. It is just that mystery, for coping with which we possess no faculties. Yea, and from this our ignorance of what a spiritual body shall be, arises an ignorance just as total of a vast portion of the occupations of believers.

II. OUR KNOWLEDGE. "We know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him." There would be no difficulty in bringing forward other portions of Scripture to corroborate this statement. It is, for example, expressly declared by St. Paul, that Christ "shall change our vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto His glorious body." But St. John, you observe, subjoins a reason for the resemblance, "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." We can hardly venture to suppose that the excitement of desire, and the consequent offering up of prayer will constitute the connection, as they do a present connection, between seeing Christ and resembling Christ. We must rather own, that whatever the future connection, it will altogether differ from the present. It is to a suffering and humiliated Christ that we become like now; it shall be to an exalted and glorified Christ that we are made like hereafter. The work wrought in us whilst on earth is conformity to Christ in His humiliation — the work wrought in us when we start up at the resurrection shall be conformity to Christ in His exaltation. The apostle declares that we "shall see Christ as He is." We ask you whether, with the most vigorous actings of faith, it can be ever said of us that we "see Christ as He is"? No, the gaze that we cast on Christ here must be a gaze upon Christ as Christ was, more truly than a gaze upon Christ as Christ is. We look upon Jesus as delivered for our sins, and raised again for our justification. We look towards Christ as lifted up like the brazen serpent in the wilderness, as presenting in His office of Intercessor the merits of His atonement in our behalf. Even those who obtain a night of Christ as Intercessor, do not strictly see Christ as Christ is. They see Him as perpetuating His crucifixion. So that, sift the matter as closely as you will, whilst on earth we see Christ as He was rather than Christ as He is — and in exact agreement with this sight of Christ is the likeness we acquire. But when in place of travelling back I would spring forward, when I would contemplate the majesty of a Being administering the business of the universe, and drawing in from every spot an infinite source of revenue, teeming with honour, and flashing with glory — oh! shall I not be forced to confess myself amazed at the very outset of the daring endeavour? Shall I not be compelled to fall back from the scrutiny of what Christ is, to repose more and more on a survey of what Christ was, thankful for present knowledge, hopeful of future?

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

The present is the prophet of the future, says my text: "Now are we the sons of God, and" (not "but") "it doth not yet appear what we shall be." A man may say: Ah! now are we, we shall be — we shall be — nothing!" John does not think so. John thinks that if a man is a son of God he will always be So.

I. THE FACT, OF SONSHIP MAKES US QUITE SURE OF THE FUTURE. It seems to me that the strongest reasons for believing in another world are these two — first, that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and has gone up there; and, second, that a man here can pray and trust and love God, and feel that he is His child. "We are the children of God now" — and if we are children now, we shall be grown up some time. Childhood leads to maturity. And not only the fact of our sonship avails to assure us of immortal life, but also the very form which our religious experience takes points in the same direction. "The child is father of the man"; the bud foretells the flower. In the same way the very imperfections of the Christian life, as it is seen here, argue the existence of another state where all that is here in the germ shall be fully matured, and all that is here incomplete shall attain the perfection which alone will correspond to the power that works in us. There is a great deal in every nature, and most of all in a Christian nature, which is like the packages that emigrants take with them, marked "Not wanted on the voyage." These go down into the hold, and they are only of use after landing in the new world. If I am a son of God I have got much in me that is "not wanted on the voyage," and the more I grow into His likeness the more I am thrown out of harmony with the things round about me in proportion as I am brought into harmony with the things beyond.

II. SONSHIP LEAVES US IGNORANT OF MUCH IN THE FUTURE. "We are the sons of God, and," just because we are, "it is not yet made manifest what we shall be." John would simply say to us, "There has never been set forth before men's eyes in this earthly life of ours an example, or an instance, of what the sons of God are to be in another state of being." And so because men have never had the instance before them they do not know much about that state. In some sense there has been a manifestation through the life of Jesus Christ. But the risen Christ is not the glorified Christ. The chrysalis's dreams about what it would be when it was a butterfly would be as reliable as a man's imagination of what a future life will be. So let us feel two things — let us be thankful that we do not know, for the ignorance is a sign of the greatness; and then, let us be sure that just the very mixture of knowledge and ignorance which we have about another world is precisely the food which is most fitted to nourish imagination and hope.

III. OUR SONSHIP FLINGS AN ALL-PENETRATING BEAM OF LIGHT ON THAT FUTURE, in the knowledge of our perfect vision and perfect likeness. "We know that when He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

There is nothing in the actual condition of mankind, or in the method of God's dispensations towards them, more surprising than the fact that, while the very constitution of the mind impels it to survey the future with intense solicitude, futurity itself is hidden by a veil which can neither be penetrated nor withdrawn. We have only to look back upon our progress hitherto, to see experimental evidence, which we at least must own to be conclusive, that, in hiding from us that which was before us, God has dealt with us, not as an austere master, but a tender parent, knowing well how His children can endure, and, in the exercise of that omniscience, determining not only how much they shall actually suffer, but how much of what they are to suffer shall be known to them before their day of visitation comes. But this part of God's providential government, though eminently merciful, is not designed exclusively to spare men a part of the suffering which sin has caused. It has a higher end. By the partial disclosure and concealment of futurity, continually acting on the native disposition to pry into it, the soul is still led onward, kept in an attitude of expectation, and in spite of its native disposition to look downward, to go backward, or to lie stagnant, is perpetually stimulated to look up, to exert itself, and make advances in the right direction. In making us rational, in giving us the power of comparison and judgment, and in teaching us by the constitution of our nature to infer effect from cause and cause from effect, God has rendered us incapable of looking at the present or remembering the past, without at the same time or as a necessary consequence anticipating that which is to come, and to a great extent with perfect accuracy, so that all the knowledge of the future which is needed for the ordinary purposes of human life is amply provided and infallibly secured; while, far beyond the limits of this ordinary foresight, He has granted to some gifted minds a keener vision. Nor is this all, for even with respect to things which neither ordinary reasoning from analogy, nor extraordinary powers of forecast can avail to bring within the reach of human prescience, God has Himself been pleased to make them known by special revelation. If anything is certain it is this, that they who do escape perdition, and by faith in the omnipotence of graze pursue this upward course, shall still continue to ascend without cessation, rising higher, growing better, and becoming more and more like God throughout eternity. This vagueness and uncertainty, although at first sight it may seem to be a serious disadvantage, is nevertheless not without important and beneficent effects upon the subjects of salvation. It may seem, indeed, that as a means of arousing the attention, an indefinite assurance of transcendent blessedness hereafter is less likely to be efficacious than a distinct and vivid exhibition of the elements which are to constitute that blessedness; but let it be remembered that no possible amount, and no conceivable array of such particulars, would have the least effect in originating serious reflection or desire in the unconverted heart. This can be wrought by nothing short of a Divine power, and when it is thus wrought, when the thoughts and the affections are once turned in the right direction, the less detailed and more indefinite description of the glory which is yet to be experienced seems often best adapted to excite and stimulate the soul, and lead it onwards, by still presenting something that is yet to be discovered or attained, and thus experimentally accustoming the soul to act upon the vital principle of its newborn nature, forgetting that which is behind, and reaching forth to that which is before. The same thing may be said of the indefinite manner in which the doom of the impenitent and unbelieving is set forth in Scripture. In this, as in the corresponding case before described, if the mind is awakened, such details are needless, and if not awakened, they are unavailing. But is it, can it be, a fact, that rational, spiritual beings, Godlike in their origin, and made for immortality, with faculties susceptible of endless elevation and enlargement, and activity, can hesitate to choose life rather than death, and good in preference to evil? Because you now wish to repent, and to believe, and to be saved hereafter, you imagine yourselves safe in your impenitence, and unbelief, and condemnation. Why, the very disposition which is now made the pretext for procrastination may forsake you. The respect you now feel for the truth, for God's law, for the gospel, may be changed into a cold indifference, contemptuous incredulity, or malignant hatred. The faint gleams of conviction which occasionally light up the habitual darkness of the mind may be extinguished.

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

It is often asked, if the great object of the gospel be to fit us for heaven, why is not a fuller revelation of its joys made to us? In the first place, were the future life fully laid open to us, its brightness would throw the present state into utter eclipse, and make our earthly pilgrimage irksome and grievous. The natural shrinking from an unknown condition of being sustains an interest in the present life in the hearts of those best fitted to die, while, when that unknown state is at hand, their confidence in the Divine mercy enables them to enter upon it without doubt or fear. Again, the representations of heaven in the Bible are such as to adapt the inspired record to the needs of all classes of minds. We doubt not that the life of heaven is spiritual. We expect there pleasures, not of sense, but of soul. But the gospel was first preached, and is still preached every year, to multitudes who occupy the lowest plane of intelligence and culture. It goes to them in their coarseness and degradation; and in that state how could they take in a picture of spiritual joy? Their conceptions of heaven grow with their characters. As they increase in spirituality it becomes less a place and more a state. It represents to them at every stage the highest point that they have reached, the utmost of blessedness that they can apprehend. To pass to another topic, I would ask, Would not any detailed description of the life to come raise more questions than it answered — excite more curiosity than it gratified? I love to think of it as infinitely diversified, as, though the same, yet different to every soul. I believe that every direction which the mind can take, every bent which the character can assume under the guidance of religion, reaches out into eternity. If this be the case, how could the whole be written out in a volume? Or, had some portions of this blessed life been revealed, and some threads of our earthly existence shown us as they are woven into the web of eternity, it could only have awakened doubt and despondency in those minds on whose favourite departments of thought and duty no light from heaven was shed. But while for these reasons a specific revelation with regard to the heavenly life was not to be expected, does not the very idea of immortality include the answers to many of the questions which we might ask the most anxiously? If we are the same beings there as here, we must carry with us the tastes, affections, and habits of thinking and feeling, with which we depart this life, and those of them which can find scope for exercise and space for growth in heaven must unfold and ripen there. In addition to what has been said, I would suggest that much may have been left unrevealed with regard to heaven in order to furnish room for the highest exercise of the imagination. It seems to me that the Scriptural representations of the life to come are precisely adapted to make fancy the handmaid of devotion. There may be yet another reason why we have so little detailed information with regard to heaven. There is no doubt much which we could not know — for which human speech furnishes no words. Language is the daughter of experience. It can give the blind no idea of colours, or the deaf of sounds. Now there can be no doubt that in the future life our mode of being, of perception, of recognition, of communication, will be essentially different from what it is here, and perhaps so different that nothing within our earthly experience could furnish terms for its description. But, with all our ignorance, we have full assurance on one point, and that the most essential to our present improvement and happiness. "When God shall appear," shall draw near the soul in death and judgment, "we shall be like Him." And if like Him, like Jesus, His express image, whose heart is all laid open to us, whose traits of spiritual beauty and excellence are within our clear view. To be like Christ — need we know, could we ask more?

(A. P. Peabody.)

There is enough of progress and development in our present existence to justify the belief that man, living in God and loving Him, shall pass on to capacities, services, and enjoyments of which he can have now only the most imperfect conception. Look at the little child in his mother's arms: its eyes beautiful but vacant, or just sharpening into attention and wonder; its head at all points of the compass in five minutes. Now look at that man who, with eye of fire and voice of thunder, binds an army together, and rules the will of a hundred thousand men with a word: the little, comely, helpless infant has grown into that mighty soldier, whose look is equal to a hundred swords, whose voice is equal to a cannonade. Who could have predicted such a man from such a child? Say, then, to every child, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be"; we must wait; we must live and work in the spirit of hope; this child, or that, may move the world to God and heaven! Look at the child beginning his letters and forming words of one syllable. See him hesitating between C and G, not exactly knowing which is which, and being utterly confounded because he is not sure whether the word to should have two o's or one! Now look at the student shut up in the museum deciphering and arranging the most learned and difficult writings in all literature, vindicating his criticism in the face of an enlightened continent. The two are one. The little puzzled learner has grown into the accomplished and authoritative scholar. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be!" If we follow on to know the Lord and do His will, our strength shall be equal to our day, and we shall be to ourselves a continual surprise, and to the dignity of life a constant witness, and a memorial not to be gainsaid. Fancy a child born under the most corrupting and discouraging circumstances: parents immoral; poverty, desolation, discomfort of every kind, the characteristics of the house. No reverence, no chivalry, no pretence even of religious form; to be born under such circumstances is surely to be doomed to a continual depravity, wickedness, and despair. Yet even there the Spirit of the Lord may mightily operate, and out of that pestilent chaos may order come, and music, and beautiful utilities. This has been done; it is being done now; it is the daily Christian miracle; it constrains us by glad compulsion to exclaim, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." It is the joy of the Christian missionary to be able to point to villages once the scene of cannibalism, and of wickedness of every name, where there was no conscience, no law, no mercy, no honour, and to show you houses of Christian prayer, and to point out men who were cannibals singing Christian psalms and crying like children under the pathos of Christian appeals. What wonder, then, if within view of transformations so vital and astounding, we exclaim with thankful and hopeful surprise, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be"!

(J. Parker, D. D.)

If a child had been born, and spent all his life in the Mammoth Cave, how impossible would it be for him to comprehend the upper world! Parents might tell him of its life, its light, its beauty, and its sounds of joy; they might heap up the sands into mounds, and try to show him by stalactites how grass, flowers, and trees grow out of the ground; till at length, with laborious thinking, the child would fancy he had gained a true idea of the unknown land: and yet, though he longed to behold it, when it came that he was to go forth, it would be with regret for the familiar crystals and rock-hewn rooms, and the quiet that reigned therein. But when he came up some May morning, with ten thousand birds singing in the trees, and the heavens bright and blue, and full of sunlight, and the wind blowing softly through the young leaves, all aglitter with dew, and the landscape stretching away green and beautiful to the horizon, with what rapture would he gaze about him, and see how poor were all the fancyings and interpretations which were made within the cave of the things which grew and lived without! and how he would wonder that he could ever have regretted to leave the silence and dreary darkness of his old abode! So, when we emerge from this cave of earth into that land where spring growths are, and where is eternal summer, how shall we wonder that we could have clung so fondly to this dark and barren life!

(H. W. Beecher.)

It is not merely for what we are today that our Father loves us so. It is for what He means to make us when we have done with mortality and sin. See that tiny boy in his cradle, over whom his parents watch with such doting fondness. Say, over and above the instinctive fondness of parents for their children, are there not big hopes that gather round that little one's head? It is not merely because of what he is today that his parents love him so, but because of what he is to be when he becomes a man, filling some place of honour in this busy world. Ah! and so it is with the love of God. It is not merely because of what we are now, in our frailty and weakness, that our Father loves us thus, but because of what He means to make us when He has received us home and has divested us of this dull mortality, and has crowned us with His own ineffable glory!

(C. Clemance, D. D.)

Oh! when we meet in heaven, we shall see now little we knew about it on earth.

(G. Payson.)

But we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is
The apostle admits that there is obscurity hanging over much of our eternal future.

1. The first step of the soul into another state of being is a mystery. The existence of the soul separate from the body, and from all material organs, is incomprehensible.

2. The place of our future life is obscure. How there can be relation to place without a body we do not know, and even when the body is restored, we cannot tell the locality of the resurrection world.

3. The outward manner of our final existence is also uncertain. Whether we may possess merely our present faculties, enlarged and strengthened, as a child's mind expands into a man's, or whether new faculties of perception may not be made to spring forth, as if sight were given a blind man, we find it impossible to affirm.

4. Many of the modes of thought and feeling, in that life to come, perplex us. Truth must forever continue truth, and goodness eternally commend itself to the soul, else our training for the future life would be valueless, and our confidence in the reality of things shaken. But there may be large modifications, through the extension and elevation of our thoughts. We shall see the same spiritual objects, but from other positions, and with higher powers of judging. How far this may affect our views we cannot say.

5. It would be unsatisfactory enough if this were all that could be said and done. But the apostle puts this dark background upon the canvas, that he may set in relief a central scene and figure — Christ and our relation to Him. It matters little, the apostle says, what may be our ignorance about other things, what doubts may agitate us, what darkness lie on the edge of our horizon, if we can abide in the centre with this great Enlightener. He casts His illumination upon our future destiny as well as upon our present duty.

I. The first thing promised is THE MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST — "Christ shall appear." It is not merely that Christ shall be seen, but seen as never before.

1. The first thought of the apostle was no doubt the human nature of Christ as appearing again to the eyes of His friends. He left. with that nature, and promised so to return — "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice." His first disciples are not to be the only favoured men who ever saw Christ after the flesh. They will regain the view they lost, and we, if we are of them who love His appearing, shall share it with them. The likeness of sinful flesh will be removed — the marred visage and form of suffering, — but the look that turned on Peter — the face that rejoiced in that hour when He said, "I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth" — the hands that blessed the children — these shall remain, with all the soul of pity that was in them, and the beating heart which went forth through them. The only difference will be that they shall appear. In this world they were hidden, seen only by the few, seen obscurely, realised feebly; but when He is made manifest they shall be the centre and the sunlight of a ransomed world, the heritage of an innumerable company, and yet each one, as if by himself, shall have His view of, and portion in, the true human fellowship of the Son of God.

2. In the manifestation of Christ the apostle must have thought also of His Divine nature. His first appearance in this nature was dim and over cast, both for the sake of the weak vision of fallen humanity, and because suffering and sacrifice were necessary for the work He had to perform. Before He could raise, He needed to redeem. When He became man "He emptied Himself" of His Divinity, as far as this was possible — gathered the attributes of the Infinite within the limits of the finite, and shut up the rays of His uncreated glory in the likeness of sinful flesh. When He shall appear there may be expected a clear manifestation of the Divine nature through the human. The glory that He had with the Father before the world was shall be resumed, and, if we may venture to say it, raised, for the glory of the Divine shall have added to it the grace of the human. The majesty, the power and wisdom which belong to Him as the Son of God shall go forth unrestrained, in union with the tenderness and sympathy which fill His heart as the Son of Man.

II. The second thing promised at the appearance of Christ is a FULL VISION ON OUR PART — "we shall see Him as He is."

1. There must certainly be a change in our material frame before we can sustain the view of Christ's exalted humanity. When men are brought to see Him as He is, the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory would crush them to the dust, without that change which will make their bodies incorruptible and glorious as His own.

2. With this change on the body, there must be a corresponding one upon the soul, before there can be the full vision of Christ. If we were allowed to conjecture, we might suppose that this education is part of the history of souls in the separate state. The body can rise at once to its highest perfection, but the law of spirit is that of advance by slow degrees. It is consolatory, also, to think that the great day shall not startle the blessed dead, if we may so speak of them, with affright. It shall dawn to them as the summer sun dawns. But however the preparation takes place, we may be confident that the soul's vision will be at last perfectly fitted to. its object — "Christ as He is." It will be a vision free from all sin in the soul. This will make it free from error, and from the doubt which has pain with it. It will be free from partiality — from that fruitful source of misconception and division, taking a portion of Christ and His truth for the whole. It will be a vision intense and vivid, not coldly outlined by the understanding, but veined and coloured by the heart — a sight in which the soul goes out to rejoice with a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory. And it will be a vision close and intimate. They shall gain their knowledge of God and Christ by quicker processes and shorter paths than here we do.

III. The third thing promised is COMPLETE ASSIMILATION TO CHRIST — "we shall be like Him." It is the perfect view of Christ which gives perfect likeness to Him. To look on one we love brings a measure of similitude, and looking on Christ, even here, however dimly we may see Him, produces a degree of likeness. But it is when Christ appears that the last great step is taken. However pure and happy may be the state of separate spirits, the Scripture teaches us that it is incomplete, and that they, as well as the whole creation, "wait for the manifestation of the sons of God."

1. Taking the order hitherto observed, we may think first of our material frame. It will be made like to Christ's glorious body. This assures us that we shall have eternal relations to God's material universe. It fixes a central home for our nature — we shall be where Christ is. It makes us feel that there will be a fitness in our frame for our future dwelling place. All that world forms itself into a harmony with Christ, and when we are like Him we shall be in harmony with it. When the material frame is made like Christ's, it indicates to us something not only of the forms of the future life, but of its active employments. The body in this present world serves two great purposes. It lets in God's external creation, with all its lessons of knowledge, upon the soul; and it gives the soul power to go forth and imprint upon God's creation its own thoughts and volitions. When the Bible assures us that a body shall still be associated with man's soul, it leads us to infer that God's material universe will be open to him in all its teachings; and that he will be able to impress it in some way with the marks of his own mind and will. Only it will be after a higher manner. The lordship of man over creation, which was granted him at first, will be heightened when it is restored through Christ (Hebrews 2:7).

2. Besides the assimilation of the material frame, we cannot forget that there will be a likeness of the spiritual nature. The source of heaven's blessedness and power is the likeness of the soul to Christ. When He shall appear "we shall see His face, and His name shall be on our foreheads." It shall be deeper — in our souls; and all of God's truth and grace that can be communicated to a creature shall enter into the depth of the spiritual nature through Christ. If the active soul finds scope for work in God's material universe, the Mary-like spirit which delights to sit at the feet of Christ and hear His word, shall have unrebuked leisure in the heavenly home. We may trust that in some way the sisters, Service and Meditation, will interchange gifts, and be perfectly at one when they reach His higher presence.

3. We have pursued the order of presenting first the human side of Christ, and then the Divine; but we trust it has been made clear that the knowledge of Christ comes to us through the soul side in ourselves. We must begin by knowing Him spiritually as the source of pardon and purity — commencing a new life within, which goes forward, strengthening and rising — a life of which heaven is not the reward, but the natural and necessary continuation.

(John Ker, D. D.)

I. THE NATURE OF THIS BLESSED AND GLORIOUS ESTATE — "we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." A transforming vision, or such a vision as changeth us into the likeness of God, is the true blessedness of the saints. There are three things considerable in our happiness

(1)The vision of God;

(2)A participation of His likeness;

(3)The satisfaction or delectation thence resulting.Two of them are in the text: "we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." The third is fetched from a parallel place (Psalm 17:15). First, for vision that beginneth the happiness, and maketh way for all the rest — "we shall see Him as He is." This sight is either ocular or mental.

1. Ocular; for our senses have their happiness as well as our souls, and there is a glorified eye as well as a glorified mind (Job 19:26, 27). But you will say, How is this so great a privilege to the godly, since the wicked shall see Him? (Matthew 26:64).(1) That sight they have of Christ shall be but a short glimpse of His glory; for after their doom and sentence is passed, they shall be immediately banished out of His presence (Matthew 25:41).(2) They shall see Him with shame and terror, looking upon Him as to receive their just punishment (1 John 2:28).(3) The consideration of the object is different; the one look upon Him as their inexorable judge, the other as their merciful saviour; their interest in Him maketh Him dear to their souls.

2. Mental vision or contemplation. The angels, which have not bodies, are said to behold the face of our heavenly Father (Matthew 18:10); and when we are said to see God, it is not meant of the bodily eye, for a spirit cannot be seen with bodily eyes; so He is still the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). And seeing face to face is opposed to knowing in part. And therefore it implieth a more complete knowledge than now we have. The mind is the noblest faculty, and must have its satisfaction. Now three things are necessary —

(1)A prepared faculty;

(2)A suitable object; and

(3)The conjunction of both these.Now in the state of glory all these concur. The faculty is more capacious, the object is more fully represented, and the conjunction and fruition is more intimate and close than it can be elsewhere. Secondly, assimilation or transformation into the image of God and Christ.

1. What this likeness is. This was man's first ruin, this aspiring to be like God (Genesis 3:5); not in a blessed conformity, but in a cursed self-sufficiency. This was the design of the first transgression (Isaiah 14:14). The men of the world aspire to be like God in greatness and power, but not in goodness and holiness. We affect or usurp Divine honour, and to sit upon even ground with God. Christ came not to gratify our sin, but to make us like unto God, not equal with God.(1) In holiness and purity; for that is the chief thing wherein God will be resembled by His creatures. We are made holy as He is holy.(2) We are like Him in happiness and glory, that is, in a glorious condition (1 Corinthians 15:49).(1) A relative and adherent glory, as the saints are admitted into a participation of His judicial power (1 Corinthians 6:2).(2) Internal and inherent, viz., the glory revealed in us, put into us, Now it is revealed to us, then in us. Our ear hath received a little hereof, but then it shall be fully accomplished in our persons, in our bodies and souls.

2. How it is the fruit of vision? for so it is given as a reason, "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." I answer — there is between light and likeness a circular generation, as there is in most moral things; and on the one side it may be said we shall be like Him, therefore we shall see Him as He is, and also on the other side, as in the text, "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." Thirdly, the third thing is satisfaction, not mentioned in the text, but implied from a parallel place; for we having the sight and presence of God, must needs be ravished with it (Psalm 16:11). Our great business will be to love what we see, and our great happiness to have what we love. This will be a full, perpetual, and never failing delight to us.

II. THE SEASON WHEN WE SHALL ENJOY THIS — "when He shall appear."

1. I take it for granted that the soul before is not only in the hand of God, which all assert, but admitted into the sight and presence of the Lord, and to see His blessed face.

2. Then we have our solemn absolution from all sins (Acts 3:19). And our pardon is pronounced by the judge sitting upon the throne.

3. Then shall we have glorified bodies restored unto us, wherein Christ shall be admired (2 Thessalonians 1:10).

4. Then Christ will present us to God by head and poll, and give an account of all that God hath given him, that they may be introduced into their everlasting estate, not one wanting (John 6:40).


1. It is not a bare conjecture, but a certain knowledge; it is not only we think, we hope well, but we know.

2. It is not a probable opinion, but an evident and infallible truth, as sure as if we saw it with our eyes. An unseen world is an unknown world; how can we be so sure of it? It is set before us by His precious promises who cannot lie.

3. It is not a general belief, but a particular confidence. He speaketh upon the supposition that we are God's children.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. THAT STRONG, UNAPPEASABLE DESIRE, THAT LONGING AFTER A HIGHER GOOD THAN THIS WORLD AFFORDS, WHICH SEEMS INHERENT IN THE NATURE OF MAN, POINTS TO SOMETHING GREAT AND GLORIOUS IN HIS FUTURE DESTINY. This was wont to be appealed to by the ancient heathen philosophers as among the strongest proofs of the soul's immortality. And plainly there is much force in the argument. For, assuming the wisdom and goodness of the Creator, it may be asked, why should He implant in the nature of man a desire after immortality, if He did not mean to gratify that desire; or why awaken in Him longings after unearthly, eternal happiness, if He has made no provisions to appease those longings? Place man in any earthly situation; give him wealth, give him power, give him honour, pleasure, all that the world can afford; still there will be a void within, still he will travail in pain, and look and sigh after enjoyments which the fleeting objects of time and sense can never afford him. His thoughts and his hopes stretch beyond the shadows of earth and time and fasten on the skies. These facts clearly show that this world was never designed to be the final abode of man.

II. IF WE CONSIDER THE CAPACITIES OF MAN, WE SHALL PERCEIVE STILL STRONGER EVIDENCE THAT HE IS DESTINED TO SOMETHING INCONCEIVABLY GRAND AND GLORIOUS IN THE PROGRESS OF HIS FUTURE BEING. Though fallen from his original dignity and degraded by sin, man is still noble in ruins. He is now, most plainly, but in the infancy of his being. Still we perceive in him capacities for high and noble attainments; capacities which stamp on his existence the seal of eternity.

1. Man possesses an immortal nature; is made for an endless existence. The body soon decays. But this affects not the existence of the living, thinking spirit.

2. Man has a capacity for endless progress in knowledge. The great law of mind is expansion, and we know of no assignable limits to this law.

3. Man has a capacity for endless improvement in moral excellence or holiness. He is qualified to be perfectly conformed to the will of God, to be holy even as He is holy.

4. Man has a capacity for great and noble actions, and for constant and evergrowing usefulness in the kingdom of God.

5. Man has a capacity for endless advancement in happiness. Happiness in a rational being is the necessary result of the right and useful exercise of all His powers.

III. WHAT PROVISIONS GOD HAS MADE TO SATISFY THE WANTS OF MAN, AND FILL THE LARGE CAPACITIES OF THE SOUL WITH GOOD. Ever since the morning of creation, when God made man in His image, and gave him dominion over His works, He has been continually operating for his good. Behold this world in all its magnificence and beauty, appointed to be his habitation, and to minister to his improvement and happiness. Turn next to the wonders of redeeming love, and see how, from age to age, God has been operating for the salvation of our race.


1. Conclusion: How truly wise is it to be religious! What is religion? It is to act up to the dignity of our nature as made in the image of God, rational and immortal beings; is to look beyond the scenes of earth and time to those invisible realities which the Word of God presents for our consideration, and prepare to meet them; it is to love, reverence and serve the great Being who holds our destiny in His hand.

2. How degrading is a life of irreligion, a life spent in neglect of God and the soul; devoted to the cares and pursuits of the world! Of what value, in a little time, will all those things be which now most interest and absorb men of the world?

(J. Hawes, D. D.)

Both St. Paul and St. John dwell largely upon the "sonship" of believers, but they approach the subject from different points of view. To the mind of the former of these two apostles, this sonship assumes the appearance of a position of privilege. A boy running wild in the streets — untaught and uncared for, and in danger of utter destruction — is adopted into a benevolent and wealthy family. He has had no reason to expect such an advancement. The other apostle pushes the matter a step further, and opens up what perhaps we may venture to call a profounder view of the subject. Looking beyond the question of privilege, He speaks of the disciple as deriving his spiritual existence from the Great Being into whose family he has been introduced. The man, according to the apostle, is born of God. You will see at once what a lofty idea of Christian discipleship the apostle St. John presents to us. "Beloved! now are we the sons of God." This is the starting point; and when we have reached it there emerge to the view three thoughts. First, that there is something difficult to comprehend about the present spiritual position of the believer. It is seen, as it were, through a mist. In the next place, that this difficulty will be removed. The mist will melt away, and all be made plain when Christ appears. And lastly, that if we are really looking forward to the clearing up or manifestation, which is coming, the effect of the expectation will be seen in the conduct of our daily lives. We shall purify ourselves even as He is pure.

1. As to the first of the three thoughts, it is plain enough that the true disciple of Christ is misunderstood, and must be misunderstood by the world at large, and just because the world cannot possibly put itself at his point of view. St. Paul tells us that the spiritual man judgeth all things, whilst the natural man knoweth not the things of the Spirit of God. The Christian disciple is more or less of a puzzle to those who, not being born again of the Spirit, do not really belong to the family of God. Sometimes they will question his motives, and set him down as hypocritical, or fanatical, or as seeking his own advantage under pretence of regard for the glory of God. But the more kindly and generous portion of them — and these will probably constitute the majority — will content themselves with expressing surprise, or, it may be amusement, at his devotion to Christ. And the reason of this is plain enough. You must sympathise with a man in order to be able to understand him. But there is more than this to be said. The disciple himself — to put the opinion of the world aside — the disciple himself can only very dimly and imperfectly apprehend the future which lies before him. Partly because he is engaged in the tug and strain of a spiritual conflict. You may have your misgivings sometimes as to how the battle is going on with you. When men express a doubt about the reality of your faith and the sincerity of your religion, you may at times be inclined to suspect that their judgment is correct, and that your estimate of yourself has all along been in error. But though the confusion may arise — in part — from the fact of your being placed in the thick of a spiritual struggle, it may be attributed still more to the difficulty of realising the things of the eternal world: a difficulty for experiencing which we are surely not altogether to blame.

2. There will be a time when all difficulties and confusions shall be removed, and that time is the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Day of Judgment is simply a day of manifestation, in which every one of us, every human being, is seen to be what he really is. At present we are muffled up in various disguises. More or less, we are hidden from each other, and perhaps from ourselves. The mean spirit is sometimes clothed in dignity, whilst solid worth, not unfrequently, is clothed in rags. Sometimes, too, the true Christian is misunderstood. But we must go a little further with Him. "When Christ," he says, "is manifested," i.e., in His resurrection glory, "we shall see Him as He is." It is possible to see Christ and yet not to see Him "as He is." There are few, I suppose, in Christendom, who do not form any idea of Christ; but in some cases it is unhappily a mistaken one. To some persons He is a mere man. To others a great teacher and nothing more. To others, again, a hard and exacting taskmaster. But to see Christ as He is, is to contemplate Him with sympathy and love. We have been taught by the Spirit to understand Him. This I suppose to be seeing Christ as He is, so far as this present world is concerned. And they who are thus accustomed to see Christ are ready to gaze upon Him with unspeakable joy when He shall come again to earth.

III. Our last point remains yet untouched. An illustration somewhat resembling that with which I started, must serve me to place this part of our subject before you. A young prince, stolen away in childhood from his father's palace, and brought up amidst unworthy surroundings, has been recovered and brought back again. By degrees he comes to understand his position — he did not quite understand it at first — and he is full of gratitude when he contrasts what he is now with what he was some months or years ago. Yet he has difficulties. The habits of years of depraved life are not easily shaken off. But he contends manfully against the difficulties, and is climbing up slowly, but surely, to a fitness for the position in which he has been so happily reinstated. Now, two distinct considerations will influence the young man. First, he will desire to act worthily of his present princely state; and then, because he knows he is to inherit, at some time or other, his father's sceptre, and because wide dominions and large populations will then be placed under his sway, he will wish to qualify himself for the task and responsibility of ruling, whenever he shall be called upon to ascend the throne. You see the application. We who are Christians have a present position to maintain. Christ says to each of us, "Be what I have made you! I have placed you where you are. I have made you children of God. Be children of God!" And then there is the future to look forward to — the future kingdom — the future glory, upon which we shall have one day to enter with Christ. And what is the result of our expectation of these things if we really entertain the expectation? Let St. John tell us: "Every man that hath this hope in Him, purifieth himself, even as He is pure."

(G. Calthrop, M. A.)

I. "IT DOTH NOT YET APPEAR WHAT WE SHALL BE." At present we are veiled, and travel through the world incognito.

1. Our Master was not made manifest here below.

(1)His glory was veiled in flesh.

(2)His Deity was concealed in infirmity.

(3)His power was hidden under sorrow and weakness.

(4)His riches were buried under poverty and shame.

2. We are not fit to appear in full figure as yet.

(1)The son is treated as a servant while under age.

(2)The heir is kept a pensioner till his majority.

(3)The prince serves as a soldier before he reaches the throne.

3. This is not the world to appear in.(1) There are more to appreciate us, and it would be as though kings showed their royalty at a wake, or wise men discoursed philosophy before fools.(2) A warring and waiting condition like the present would not be a fit opportunity for unveiling.

(a)The winter prepares flowers, but does not call them forth.

(b)The ebb tide reveals the secrets of the sea, but many of our rivers no gallant ship can then sail.

(c)To everything there is a season, and this not the time of glory.


1. We shall speak of our Lord's manifestation without doubt. "We know."

2. Our faith is so assured that it becomes knowledge.

(1)He will be manifest upon this earth in person.

(2)He will be manifest in perfect happiness.

(3)He will be manifest in highest glory.

(4)He will appear surely, and so we speak of it as a date for our own manifesting — "when He shall appear."

III. "WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM." We shall then be as manifested and as clearly seen as He will be. The time of our open presentation at court will have come.

1. Having a body like His body: sinless, incorruptible, painless, spiritual, clothed with beauty and power, and yet most real and true.

2. Having a soul like His soul: perfect, holy, instructed, developed, strengthened, active, delivered from temptation, conflict, and suffering.

3. Having such dignities and glories as He wears: kings, priests, conquerors, judges, sons of God.


1. This glorious sight will perfect our likeness.

2. This will be the result of our being like Him.

3. This will be evidence of our being like Him, since none but the pure in heart can see God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Surely a wholly new interest creeps over this poor human world of ours if we once see in it the germ of possibility, the suggestion of all we shall be hereafter. So seen, it is no aged and weary traveller tottering slowly down to his end; but it is a child still, with the fascination of a child all about it, the fascination of a life which is feeling its way forward by start, by gleam, by sudden intuition, by experiment, by tentative trial, by flashes of insight, by glances, by glimpses — yes, and by stumbles and falls and shocks and jolts, from out of which it still pulls itself together and runs on yet ahead. That is human life in the believer's eye, in its best and wisest form — still the child life, wistful, prophetic, marvellous, suggestive; a child life so full of strange dreams, but with all its achievements yet to come, to come in that great after world for which the whole round of this age long story of man is but a nursery, but a preparation, but a rehearsal, but an education. Let us recount our gains from such a belief in respect of the world at our feet, before our eyes.

1. Cheerfulness in the face of change. Change is so wearisome when it insists on going beyond what we want. There is such a sense of disappointment when we, perhaps, have succeeded in obtaining a goal, and then have to discover that the moment the end is touched it has already begun to change, to move, to go further. In politics, especially, we note how we are suffering from this cheerless disappointment. Good things, from which men thirty years ago hoped so much, have been done only to show how much more remains to be done. We thought ourselves in the van — lo! we are already lagging in the rear, we are passe, we have lost the cue. That is what damps the spirit. But what if this life is all of it not an end, but only a beginning; all of it a suggestion of more beyond, none of it a goal attained? Our political fabric is to us precious and sacred. It suggests something which we shall find hereafter. It gives a hint, a shadow, of that heavenly citizenship which shall complete all that is well begun here: we shall find it all there. Here no suggestion of that vast society in heaven exhausts its meaning. As soon as we have understood one, and seen our way to its realisation, we see our way to another; each is but a fragment of the great kingdom to be. Now let it go. God sweeps it out of sight; not in contempt, but because He prepares for us another and yet another picture of that immeasurable glory of the kingdom of heaven.

2. We gain cheerfulness in the face of change, and we gain hope just where we most need it. For if the ideal, if completion, is to be sought here on earth, then we know how despairing is our view of those who are born in thousands in dark and low dens, born out of the seed of sin, out of the fires of lust and of drink, born into a life that must be stricken and stunted, blind with ignorance and cursed with a loveless doom. Those so born can make but a pitiful fight of it here; at their very best they can attain very little, and they are swept so lightly down the dark waters of crime and sorrow. If this earth of ours be all, how can we close our eyes to that nightmare? But we who believe that this life is at its best but a germ, a start, a discipline, can afford to broaden our hope beyond all our seeing. Behind the fumes of drink, behind the cloud of crime, each may have made his start and fought his fight, and have proved the possibility, and have manifested some germ of possible growth. Kindness, purity, may have been touched at least. And if this is so there is hope. God may yet do great things with them, so long as He can secure in them some seed of future life.

3. We gain cheerfulness in the face of change and hope in face of base and bad tuition, and then we gain what is near akin to the last joy in the face of failure. The fruit is not here, but fruit may come hereafter in abundance out of those very failures which prune and curtail and sharply discipline us here. Hereafter it may be our failures that we shall most bless, as we see all they taught us. Who knows what is going on in secret behind those very failures in others which most provoke us? It will not be the failure which distresses, but only the failure to use the failure for good purposes. Our failures (above all, of course, our noble failures) are part and parcel of our spiritual history and growth. When we go before our God the failures will go to the account, they will be elements in the judgment, they will be as instrumental and effective as any of our successes in determining our eternal lot. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, but it doth not appear what we shall be." Not yet, but the root of what we shall be hereafter is here embodied in the soul. Now are we the sons of God, now are we the germ of what we shall find ourselves in that fair land. Now all that we can learn of what we shall be here after is to be sought here and now, in our human lot, amid our fellows, in our common brotherhood. The hints, the glimpses of the glory which is to follow, the beginning, the omen, the voice — all are here close about us in human nature trod in flesh and blood. How, then, shall we not turn to this poor life of ours with hope, with zeal, with tenderness, with love; how shall we not clasp it tight and fast, and cling about it, and busy ourselves with its services?

(Canon Scott Holland.)

As vain and troublesome a world as this is, and as short and uncertain as our abode is in it, yet are we so strangely charmed with the glittering appearances in our way as to forget the crown of glory at our journey's end. To wean us, therefore, from the place of our pilgrimage, and to set our affections on a better country, we must send out our minds, as Moses did his spies, to search the promised Canaan, and to bring of the fruit of that good land we are travelling to. Such Divine contemplations will give a new turn of thought and quite another taste and relish of things; they will be of great use to cure a downward disposition of soul, and to raise us above the world.

I. THE MEANING AND EXTENT OF THIS PHRASE, OF SEEING GOD AS HE IS. The vision here intended must be intellectual — a vision of the mind and not of the eye, a clear perception or sight of God in the souls of just men made perfect. In this life we feel after God, as it were, in the dark, we trace Him out by the foot steps of infinite power and wisdom, we see Him in His works but not in Himself; but when we commence angel life this veil shall be taken away, then we shall be no longer under the pedagogy of types and shadows but admitted into the immediate possession of original truth.

II. THE MODE OR MANNER OF THIS BEATIFIC VISION. The manner of our seeing God in this life is either by a long train of consequences, by climbing up gradually from the effects to the cause, from the things that are made to the invisible things of the Maker, even His eternal power and Godhead; or by way of eminence, by inferring that the perfections we see in the creatures must of necessity centre all more eminently in the Creator; or negatively, by denying everything of God we conceive unbecoming the Divine nature, for at present we rather know what God is not than what He is; or else we see Him by faith, by believing upon the testimony He has given us of Himself by Moses and the prophets, Christ and His apostles. In the vision reserved for the heavenly Jerusalem there will be nothing dark or enigmatical, nothing of cloud, or representation, of faith or reasoning, or intermediate ideas to inform the understanding, nothing between God and the glorified soul, the knowledge intuitive, the vision naked, full, and perfect according to the quality of the recipient, and the mind directly irradiated from the fountain of light, from the Divine essence itself.

III. WHEREIN THE HAPPINESS OF THIS BEATIFIC VISION DOES PRINCIPALLY CONSIST. Now by seeing God we are not to conceive a bare intuitive knowledge only of the Divine essence, but a vision most lively and operative, warmed with all the affections of the heart, and an entire conformity of our wills to the will of God. For then, then alone, are just men completely blessed, when their spirits are made so perfect that they clearly contemplate all truth and fully enjoy all good; that is, when the whole orb of the soul is filled with perfect light and perfect love. To see God, therefore, is to enjoy Him. First, the Holy Spirit is now given but in part, in proportion to the exigencies of a state of trial, and consequently our communion must be in part also; but in heaven, the place of reward, we shall all, to the utmost extent of our capacity, so be filled with all the fulness of God, and most perfectly joined to the ever-blessed Trinity in a most intimate, immediate, and ineffable union. For, secondly, God communicates Himself in this world not immediately, but by inferior instruments and secondary causes: He feeds the soul with the graces of His Spirit, by the ministry of His Word and sacraments, and preserves the body by the help of His creatures. But in the other world all we can want or wish for shall be supplied directly from the Fountain of Happiness, and God Himself shall be to us all in all without any second causes. Thirdly, the mean, or condition on our part, whereby we are incorporated into Christ at present, is our faith, but in the life to come faith shall be swallowed up in perfect vision, we shall see God as He is, and the sight of infinite perfection shall set us on fire and make our hearts burn with love as pure and bright as our knowledge; and it being the property of love to clasp the object beloved into the closest union, we shall enjoy all things possible in common with the ever-blessed Trinity. From the nature of our communion with God in heaven thus explained, I proceed more particularly to the blessed effects of it. I begin with the perfection of our knowledge. Then shall we know, not in part, not by wearisome steps and deductions, but clearly and all at once; we shall know in the same manner as God knows, that is, by His immediate self, for in Himself only can we see Him as He is, and in His infinite mind we shall see the hidden forms of His creatures and the ideas of all perfection. But there is a fond inquiry whether we shall know our relations and acquaintances in the other world. To which I answer, that if such knowledge will add to our happiness we shall surely enjoy it. But then, seeing everything in God, we shall be affected only as God is affected; we shall love one another for our relation and likeness to Him only, and as we are members of Christ united and informed by the same Spirit, which will be both the bond of our union and the cause of our love. Lastly, from this perfection of knowledge will arise a perfect conformity of our wills and affections.

(W. Reeves, M. A.)

It is one of the most natural desires in all the world, that when we hear of a great and a good man we should wish to see his person. I am sure you will all confess that this strong desire has arisen in your minds concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. We owe to none so much; we talk of none so much, we hope, and we think of none so much: at any rate, no one so constantly thinks of us. We have a strong desire to see Him. Nor do I think that that desire is wrong. Moses himself asked that he might see God. Had it been a wrong wish arising out of vain curiosity it would not have been granted, but God granted Moses his desire. Yea, more; the earnest desire of the very best of men has been in the same direction. Job said, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and though worms devour this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God": that was his desire. The holy Psalmist said, "I shall be satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness"; "I shall behold Thy face in righteousness." We are rejoiced to find such a verse as this, for it tells us that our curiosity shall be satisfied, our desire consummated, our bliss perfected. "We shall see Him as He is."

I. THE GLORIOUS POSITION. Our minds often revert to Christ as He was, and as such we have desired to see Him. We shall never see Him thus; Bethlehem's glories are gone forever; Calvary's glooms are swept away; Gethsemane's scene is dissolved; and even Tabor's splendours are quenched in the past. We cannot, must not, see Him as He was; nor do we wish, for we have a larger promise, "We shall see Him as He is."

1. Consider, first of all, that we shall not see Him abased in His incarnation but exalted in His glory. We shall see the hand, and the nail-prints too, but not the nail; it has been once drawn out, and forever. We shall see Him, not with a reed in His hand, but grasping a golden sceptre.

2. Remember, again: we are not to see Christ as He was, the despised, the tempted one. We shall see Him beloved, not abhorred, not despised and rejected, but worshipped, honoured, crowned, exalted, served by flaming spirits and worshipped by cherubim and seraphim. "We shall see Him as He is."

3. We shall not see the Christ wrestling with pain, but Christ as a conqueror. We shall not see Him fight; but we shall see Him return from the fight victorious, and shall cry, "Crown Him! Crown Him!" We shall never see our Saviour under His Father's displeasure; but we shall see Him honoured by His Father's smile. Perhaps I have not shown clearly enough the difference between the two visions — the sight of what He was and what He is. The believer will be as much astonished when he sees Jesus' glories as He sits on His throne as He would have been to have seen Him in His earthly sufferings. The one would have been astonishment, and horror would have succeeded it; but when we see Jesus as He is it will be astonishment without horror. If we could see Jesus as He was, we should see Him with great awe. If we had seen Him raising the dead we should have thought Him a most majestic Being. So we shall feel awe when we see Christ on His throne; but it will be awe without fear. We shall not bow before Him with trembling, but it will be with joy; we shall not shake at His presence, but rejoice with joy unspeakable. Furthermore, if we had seen Christ as He was, we should have had great love for Him; but that love would have been compounded with pity. We shall love Him quite as much when we see Him in heaven, and more too, but it will be love without pity; we shall not say "Alas!" but we shall shout — "All hail the power of Jesu's name," etc. If we had seen Jesus Christ as He was here below, there would have been joy to think that He came to save us; but we should have had sorrow mingled with it to think that we needed saving. But when we see Him, there it will be joy without sorrow; sin and sorrow itself will have gone; ours will be a pure, unmingled, unadulterated joy. Yet more. If we had seen our Saviour as He was, it would have been a triumph to see how He conquered, but still there would have been suspense about it. We should have feared lest He might not overcome. But when we see Him up there it will be triumph without suspense. Sheathe the sword; the battle's won.

II. PERSONAL IDENTITY. Perhaps while I have been speaking some have said, "Ah! but I want to see the Saviour, the Saviour of Calvary, the Saviour of Judea, the very one that died for me. I do not so much pant to see the glorious Saviour you have spoken of; I want to see that very Saviour who did the works of love, the suffering Saviour; for Him I love." You shall see Him. It is the same one. There is personal identity. "We shall see Him." We shall be sure it is He; for when we enter heaven we shall know Him by His manhood and Godhead. We shall find Him a man, even as much as He was on earth. Have you never heard of mothers having recognised their children years after they were lost by the marks and wounds upon their bodies? Ah! if we ever see our Saviour, we shall know Him by His wounds. But then, Christ and we are not strangers; for we have often seen Him in this glass of the Word. We shall know Him, because He will be so much like the Bible Jesus, that we shall recognise Him at once. Yet more, we have known Him better than by Scripture sometimes — by close and intimate fellowship with Him. Why, we meet Jesus in the dark sometimes; but we have sweet conversation with Him. Oh! we shall know Him well enough when we see Him. You may trust the believer for knowing his Master when he finds Him.

III. THE POSITIVE NATURE OF VISION. "We shall see Him as He is." This is not the land of sight; it is too dark a country to see Him, and our eyes are not good enough. We walk here by faith. It is pleasant to believe His grace, but we had rather see it. Well, "we shall see Him." How different that sight of Him will be from that which we have here!

1. For here we see Him by reflection. Just as sometimes, when you are looking in your looking glass, you see somebody going along in the street. You do not see the person, you only see him reflected. Now we see Christ reflected; but then we shall not see Him in the looking glass; we shall positively see His person. Not the reflected Christ, not Christ in the sanctuary, not the mere Christ shining out of the Bible, not Christ reflected from the sacred pulpit; but "we shall see Him as He is."

2. Again: how partially we see Christ here! The best believer only gets half a glimpse of Christ. There we shall see Christ entirely, when "we shall see Him as He is."

3. Here, too, how dimly we see Christ! Have you never stood upon the hilltops when the mist has played on the valley? You have looked down to see the city and the streamlet below; you could just ken yonder steeple and mark that pinnacle; but they were all so swathed in the mist that you could scarcely discern them. Suddenly the wind has blown away the mist from under you, and you have seen the fair, fair valley. Ah! it is so when the believer enters heaven. Here he stands and looks upon Christ veiled in a mist — upon a Jesus who is shrouded; but when he gets up there, on Pisgah's brow, higher still, with his Jesus, then he shall not see Him dimly, but he shall see Him brightly.

4. Here, too, how distantly we see Christ! Almost as far off as the farthest star! But then we shall see Him closely; we shall see Him face to face; as a man talketh with his friend, even so shall we then talk with Jesus.

5. And oh! how transitory is our view of Jesus! It is only a little while we get a glimpse of Christ, and then He seems to depart from us. But, Christians, there will be no hidings of faces in heaven! Then, do you know, there will be another difference — when "we shall see Him as He is." How much better that sight will be than what we have here! When we see Christ here, we see Him to our profit; when we see Him there, we shall see Him to our perfection. I bear my Master witness, I never saw Him yet without being profited by Him. But then it will not be to improve us, it will be to perfect us, when we see Him there. "We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is."

IV. THE ACTUAL PERSONS — "we shall see Him as He is." Come, let us divide that "we" into "I's." How many "I's" are there here that will "see Him as He is"? Brother, with snow upon thy head, wilt thou "see Him as He is"? Thou hast had many years of fighting, and trying, and trouble: if thou ever dost "see Him as He is," that will pay for all. But are thy grey hairs full of sin? and doth lust tarry in thy old cold blood? Ah! thou shalt "see Him," but not nigh; thou shalt be driven from His presence. God save thee! And thou, who hast come to middle age, struggling with the toils of life, mixed up with all its battles, enduring its ills, thou art asking, it may be, shalt thou see Him? The text says, "We shall"; and can you and I put our hands on our hearts and know our union with Jesus? If so, "we shall see Him as He is." Young man, the text says, "We shall see Him as He is." Young man, you have got a mother and her soul doats upon you. Could your mother come to you this morning, she might take hold of your arm, and say to you, "John, we shall 'see Him as He is'; it is not I, John, that shall see Him for myself alone, but you and I shall see Him together; 'we shall see Him as He is.'" Oh! bitter, bitter thought that just now crossed my soul! O heavens! if we ever should be sundered from those we love so dearly when the last day of account shall come! That were sad indeed. But we leave the thought with you, and lest you should think that if you are not worthy you will not see Him — if you are not good you will not see Him — if you do not do such-and-such good things you will not see Him — let me just tell you, whosoever, though he be the greatest sinner under heaven — whosoever, though his life be the most filthy and the most corrupt — whosoever believeth in the Lord Jesus Christ shall have everlasting life; for God will blot out his sins, will give him righteousness through Jesus, accept him in the beloved, save him by His mercy, keep him by His grace, and at last present Him spotless and faultless before His presence with exceeding great joy.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

(with 2 Corinthians 3:18): — The transfigurations of Moses and Christ were events that did more than accredit their Divine missions. The facts were typical, and suggestive of principles that were operating beyond the range of these special instances, and as such helped to colour the thought and speech and hope of the founders of the coming Church. Paul and John take hold of these inscrutable and stupendous transfiguration forces, and trace the effect of their working upon a man's moral life and character here, and upon his person and destiny hereafter. Christ not only so acts upon us as to conform us to His holy and exalted pattern now; when He comes again it shall be to reflect His glory into the persons of His believing followers.

1. It may help the weak faith of some who stumble at the supernatural, if we recognise that assimilation forces are already at work which change into finer quality, nobler form, more subtle function that which is gross, inert, unshaped. The earth, in its noiseless flight, gathers to itself cosmic dust, just as a miller in going to and fro amidst the revolving wheels of his mill draws to himself fine grains of flour; and the earth then conforms that dust to its own likeness. It pulls the pliant stuff into its own range, and then refines and exalts it into those living organisms that are the glory of the earth.

2. It is by the law of assimilation that men are bound together into homogeneous communities and nations.

3. Transfigurations go on in the social realm that are more or less consciously mimetic in their character. It is because of this fact that the different parts of our common life at least match themselves into a congruous and harmonious whole. The moulding forces of society tend to bring men into conformity with ruling types rather than to make them separatists. And there is an assimilation to Christ's pattern that is more or less conscious, corresponding to these processes in the social realm around us. The transcendent beauty of Jesus Christ casts a spell over us, and we long to copy Him. And within certain limits we do find ourselves possessed of power through which we approximate, in external conduct at least, to His standard of truth and righteousness and compassion.

4. In ways unknown to us these assimilative forces work deep down amidst the elemental mysteries of life. The nervous system seems curiously responsive to the environment, and accommodates itself to the forms and hues that predominate in it, In a stream near Ivybridge, into which white clay was poured, the fish soon became perceptibly lighter in colour. A Syrian shepherd, by putting peeled rods of hazel before his flocks and herds in the breeding season, found that he could almost mark at will the skins and fleeces of the unborn young. And the law holds in human life. The organisation passes through plastic stages of sensibility, in which it is peculiarly susceptible to the imprint of any new object that may be presented to it. The deep mental impressions of the mother often infix themselves legibly upon the young life she brings into the world. Probably the traditions of saints who had set themselves to meditate on the agonies of the pierced hands and feet, and at last received nail marks in their own persons, are not simple myths, but have a basis of scientific fact. And if there be a law of this sort, it must surely run out into higher and more momentous forms. Shall God give to the frail, mute, unreasoning weaklings of the animal creation around us the power of assimilating themselves to the hues of their environments, so as the better to equip them for a life which is but a short spasm of sensations, and shall He deny the benefit of that catholic law to us who have come to the assembly and church of the firstborn, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, so that we may be transformed and fitted for the high distinction that is before us? Shall this mysterious law work through our fears and terrors, and conform us to the disease of which we may think and work towards death, and shall it not also operate through hope and admiration and worship, and assimilate us to the ideal of health, and be fruitful for glory and honour and immortality? We are even now in conditions in which we are being attracted more or less swiftly into the image of Christ's spiritual loveliness, but ere long we shall be attracted into conformity to the unknown splendour which invests the humanity enshrined and enthroned in the highest heaven.

5. Both the earthly and the heavenly transfigurations rest upon a common act of contemplation. The monks of Mount Athos hypnotise themselves into trance conditions by gazing at their own bodies. In some of the Buddhist monasteries of Eastern Asia devotees are pointed out who have sat facing blank walls for years, and have gazed themselves into mysterious ecstasies. We find, as a matter of experience, that we can absorb and assimilate that on which we succeed in detaining the attention of our concentrated powers. Now, if men by projecting themselves into moods of abstraction discover new powers of mind, find unknown fires begin to burn within them, and rise into worlds of spiritual ecstasy, what change, think you, ought to effect itself within us if with the same steadfastness we contemplate the personality of Him who is the Leader and Consummator of our faith? We cannot look with sympathy upon His moral loveliness here, or with worship upon His glorious majesty hereafter, without realising some amazing approximation to His likeness.

6. Another analogy worthy of our notice is that these transfiguration processes effect themselves upon a new and impressionable life. It is the unborn babe which is responsive to the image presented to the brain of the mother, rather than the mother herself. The chrysalis is no longer affected by the colour of its surroundings when it reaches the last stages of its development. And in the spiritual realm this fact has its counterpart. The transcendent beauty of Christ imparts itself only in natures made tender by the Spirit. Till the Holy Ghost comes to brood within us, the material of which we consist does not lead itself to these high spiritual transformations. A man may try and look at Christ for a lifetime. He may have an adequate intellectual conception of this ideal character. Every grace may be discriminated and may command its due need of homage, but all in vain unless there be a new and tender life to receive the imprint of the perfect personality thus presented to the thought and emotion. This process is not human and ethical only. The life dawning in that birth mediated through the Spirit is alone susceptible of these sublime modifications and perfectings; and in the heavenly transfiguration there is the same parallel or analogy. If man's nature is to be photographically sensitive to the celestial splendour of the Son of Man in His last glorious manifestation, the quickening from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, must be followed by a new birth of man's sentient life from the dust of death.

7. But in these transfigurations there are contrasts as well as analogies. These arise, not from the fact that different forces are brought into use to effect these changes, but from the different degrees of aptitude which appear in the early and late stages of the religious history of the soul.(1) The first transformation is brought to pass by contemplating the reflected image of Christ; the second, by contemplating the direct glory of His essential nature. If the broken gleams of Christ's life, the fragments of His tradition, the piecemeal presentation of His character and personality to the world by His followers, can effect such sublime changes amongst men, how much richer will be the transfigurations effected by His direct personal manifestation at His second coming "without spot unto salvation"?(2) In the first transfiguration the Spirit is the agent of the change; in the second the ministry of the Spirit is superseded, or at least falls into the background. The righteous burst forth at once into the zenith of their destinies like stars into the swift kindling splendour of the firmament. The Son creates them at once to new majesty as He once created worlds, for His power is dealing with an entirely obedient material, a material ruled by regenerated wills promptly and absolutely responsive to His sovereignty.(3) The present transfiguration is gradual, whilst the future is instantaneous. "We shall see Him as He is," and pass at once into the distinctions of His sovereignty. Quick as the kindling of light His exalted humanity will implant itself in us. In that life of unknown blessedness there will be scope for ever-enlarging knowledge, strength, dignity of nature; but men will rise at once into participation with the privileges of Christ's enthronement and conformity to His Divine kingliness.

8. These two blessed changes are so vitally related to each other that one is a pledge and forecast of the other. Princely beauty hides itself away in the sons of God everywhere, and if we only suffer the Spirit of God to come to us and assimilate our characters to the Christlike ideal, that beauty will adorn even the bodies of our humiliation, and will at last clothe our quickened and recreated flesh forever. Guard unhurt the germ. See that the law of approximation to Christ is at work in all the occasions of common life. That will guarantee the rest. If we are absorbed into Christ, and Christ into us, when He is manifested we also shall be manifested with Him in glory. He is in us the hope of glory, and such a hope maketh not ashamed.

(T. G. Selby.)

There is a very lofty sentiment in these words. They labour with meaning and soar with aspiration. We notice —

I. A CHANGE OF THE MOST MARKED CHARACTER IS ALREADY SUPERINDUCED. Something is already accomplished; an effect is secured. Things are placed in a course of progression even now.

II. THIS CHANGE IS PREPARATORY TO ANOTHER IN A FUTURE STATE OF EXISTENCE. Life is the school, the arena, the watch tower. Here holy principle is imbibed and holy habit formed; but the scope and aim are always prospective. The premonitions of our future are afforded by the nature of —(1) Our present states. There is rapture in devotion. Holiness now is clothed with beauty. Love, obedience, fellowship, are sweetest flowers of earth, but they all look heavenward.(2) Our characteristic principles.


(R. W. Hamilton, LL. D.)

John, looking back, sees what great spaces have been covered in his spiritual history; he also looks forward, and sees greater changes in store for him. He has, in truth, become a son of God, but it is not manifest what he will become; he is only sure that as all the transformations in his character have been in the direction of likeness to God, they will go on in the same direction. To believe in future change is very different from believing in past change. It is not easy to realise that we shall ever be much different from what we are at present — that we shall become wiser, that we shall feel older, that we shall hold other opinions, that we shall develop new powers. Our future self is commonly the simple projection of our present self. The wondrous changes since infancy, with the development of hidden powers, do not effectually teach us that changes as great await us, or may be achieved. And yet these natural changes in the past ought to teach us that as great changes may await us in the future, and also that there may be spiritual changes and developments corresponding to the physical changes. The limit of physical development may be reached, but the mental and moral development may go on long after, and, for aught we know, forever, and the fact that we draw our life from God makes it probable that it will be so. Origin in an infinite being is a pledge not only of an infinite life, but of endless development in the direction of the unattainable source. This natural history should open our minds to the possibility of a like spiritual history. We may be sure that God has not put all the wonders of His creation into our early physical life, and left the moral life bare and fixed. The natural comes first, then the spiritual, but it is no less full of germinant seeds and possibilities than the natural. This is high probability; the Christian faith makes it a certainty. It enters into its nature and purpose to open before us great changes and developments. And it also seeks to produce them. It sets before us the duty of ourselves striving to make these changes. "Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour." Let us give ourselves to this thought for awhile. Under natural conditions character does not show a tendency to change its type or direction; it simply grows after its type, and sets steadily in its native direction and toward some permanent form. Hereditary qualities take the lead, and the character moves on in their direction. The main quality asserts itself more and more strongly, shapes the features, gives tone to the voice, and gesture to the body, directs the conduct and becomes the spirit of the life. If selfish or lustful or proud, these qualities tend simply to go on and harden into fixed form. We call the result habit; it is rather the natural tendency of character, aided by habit, to consolidate; it is the loss of native freedom, for habit is the absence of freedom. But there is even a better prospect than this. It is, indeed, a pleasant thought that if I cultivate a spirit of patience, or sympathy, or self-control, it will become a fixed habit in me. It points to an end of strife, to rest and peace; but there is something better than that. I do not want merely to become fixed in these habits, but to grow in them; and I also want to be carried on and lifted up into higher ranges of character than I now know; I cannot be satisfied with any condition that is stationary. Therefore we hope to come upon other duties, and so to enter into other feelings than any we now know. Just as a little child knows nothing of the passions that sweep through the heart of the youth, so there may be lofty spiritual passions and experiences, and even qualities of character, of which we now know nothing. One thing is sure, the gospel of Jesus Christ does not leave us alone with a law of heredity, and the bare hope that we may become confirmed in goodness; it opens before us a vista of endless growth and change. And therefore it begins with a call to regeneration. Its first work is to lift us out of the order of nature where character tends simply to solidify and habits become fixed, and to carry us into another sort of world. Regeneration means, not that we are to be developed, but that we are to be changed, to live in other ways, with other motives and for other ends. Now see how Christian requirement works in with regeneration and helps it on. The gospel is constantly putting a man upon moral choices, and so it acts against the solidifying tendency of habit or native inclination; i.e., it keeps a man constantly in the world of freedom and out of the region of fixed habit. When I begin the day, I have not only to keep on in the good habits of yesterday, but I have fresh choices to make. New questions come up; life varies its phases; I am myself not quite the same being as yesterday; I see more, feel more; duty is a little broader; time presses upon me a little more heavily; eternity becomes more real. Thus I am summoned to new exercises of my nature. We are not to think that this transforming process belongs only to the life beyond. God is appearing all the while to those who have eyes to see Him. We touch here a most vital fact — the revelations of God and their effect upon us. I do not refer to the everyday manifestations of God — the sunlight, the blessed order of nature, the daily food and daily joy of home, but to those occasions when life becomes momentous, when it gathers itself up in a crisis and all is changed for us. It may be good or evil fortune, the birth or death of love, a loss or a gain; all such things are revelations of God, for God is in our lives and not outside of them; but when He thus appears it is for purposes of transformation. That is the use to be made of such events as they touch us. St. John doubtless had in mind the effect of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. That was almost the only revelation to which he gave much heed; the effect of it was the only spiritual effect of which he was conscious. Christ had come into his life; and from a mere child of this world, a simple fisherman, he had been made a veritable son of God. Christ had drawn him out of his old, worldly, natural self up into this high sense and relation, so that he could say, "Now, I am a son of God" — a tremendous change, the greatest a human being can undergo. St. John had experienced this change under the influence of Christ — a change so great that he can scarcely realise what he was at the beginning. A new creation; born again; a son of God; transformed — these phrases are too weak to express it. But it will go on, he says. We shall see Christ again, and see Him as He is; see Him with clearer eyes than we now have; and so mightier transformations will take place within us; we cannot tell nor even imagine what we shall be. I see no reason to doubt this — that great changes are still to go on in us under the transforming power of Christ. Let us not think meagrely on such a subject, but under high analogies. See how Christ has transformed the world; how His spirit has stolen into the hearts of nations; how civilisation has taken on His name and is doing His work. See how the tide of progress sets steadily Christward — more peace and less war, more justice, more equality, more mercy and kindness and goodwill. No matter how they come; they are coming by the Spirit of Gods and they are coming in ways not to be turned aside. What the end of this social change will be we do not know, but there is no reason to doubt that society will make as great gains as it has made in the past. But if society is capable of such transformations, much more must the individual be capable of them. All men are as one man; one is the whole and the whole are but one. And the final condition! who can imagine it? It doth not yet appear what this human world will become. All we can say is that the holy city of the saved world, the new Jerusalem of the perfected humanity, is slowly but steadily coming down from God out of heaven, and will in time appear four-square upon the earth. Thus these great hopes that enfold the world are yours and mine; we can take them into the secrecy of our sorrowing hearts, into our disappointed lives, into the vanishing away of our strength and years, and through them claim and find a place in the world of joy and peace.

(T. T. Munger.)

Loved ones, now are we the children (τέκνα) of God. We are His children even now. "Amidst all the mistakes on the part of the world we are nevertheless really now the children of God," however unworthy we may appear and however little we may be appreciated. The soil may dwarf the Divine life and prevent its perfect development; nevertheless, we have that life in germ. But the infinite future lies before us: "It doth not yet appear." The lily life is subject to hostile climate, and hence is imperfect. The life in us is an exotic from a celestial clime, "and" hence "it doth not yet appear what we shall be." There will be no difficulty in recognising our unfolding of His life in the future. "When He shall appear" all will be well; the life will unfold itself in divinest forms under the immediate sunlight of His countenance. "We shall be like Him." The life will have reached its type. For the present our "life is hid with Christ in God," but "when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory"; yes, "with Him in glory," because "like Him." What is the explanation of that perfect likeness? "For we shall see Him as He is." The sight of Him makes us like Him. Our life begins with a look "Behold the Lamb of God." In the same way that life develops: "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory." So at last in the heavenly city we are made perfectly like Him, and seas of bliss begin to roll through our souls, because "we see Him as He is." What heaven in such a look!

(A. R. Cocke, D. D.)

"Oh, blessed vision!" was the apostrophe of an ancient confessor. "Oh, blessed vision! to which all others are penal and despicable! Let me go into the mint house and see heaps of gold, and I am never the richer; let me go to the pictures and see goodly faces, I am never the fairer; let me go to the court, where I see state and magnificence, and I am never the greater; but oh, Saviour! I cannot see Thee and not be blessed. I can see Thee here through symbols; if the eye of my faith be dim, yet it is sure. Oh, let me be unquiet till I shall see Thee as I am seen!"

(Quoted by Dr. Hanford.)

Mr. Ruskin, in his "Modern Painters," tells that the black mud or slime from a footpath in the outskirts of a manufacturing town — the absolute type of impurity — is composed of four elements — clay, mixed with soot, a little sand, and water. These four may be separated each from the other. The clay particles, left to follow their own instinct of unity, become a clear, hard substance so set that it can deal with light in a wonderful way, and gather out of it the loveliest blue rays only, refusing the rest. We call it then a sapphire. The sand arranges itself in mysterious, infinitely fine parallel lines, which reflect the blue, green, purple, and red rays in the greatest beauty. We call it then an opal. The soot becomes the hardest thing in the world, and for the blackness it had obtains the power of reflecting all the rays of the sun at once in the vividest blaze that any solid thing can shoot. We call it then a diamond. Last of all, the water becomes a dewdrop, and a crystalline star of snow. Thus God can and does transform the vilest sinners into pure and shining jewels fit for His home in heaven.

Among some reminiscences of the sweet singer, Jenny Lind, communicated by Canon Scott Holland to Murray's Magazine, occurs the following: — "She had gone to look on the face of her friend, Mrs. Nassau Senior, after death. The son of her friend had shown her the stairs, and pointed out the door of the room where the body lay, and put a candle in her hands, and left her. She pushed open the door and entered alone, and there, before her, lay the face, fine and clear cut, encompassed about with a mass of white flowers. On it was peace, and a smile, with her lips parted; but that was not all. I must tell the rest in her own words. 'It was not her own look that was in her face. It was the look of another, the face of another, that had passed into hers. It was the shadow of Christ that had come upon her. She had seen Christ. And I put down my candle, and I said, "Let me see this thing. Let me stop here always. Let me sit and look. Where are my children? Let them come and see. Here is a woman who has seen Christ."' I can never forget the dramatic intensity of her manner as she told me all this, and how she at last had to drag herself away, as from a vision, and to stumble down the stairs again."

Cain, John
Appear, Appeared, Appears, Beloved, Christ, Clear, Dear, Friends, Fully, Future, God's, Loved, Manifest, Manifested, Ones, Present, Reappears, Revealed, Revelation, Sons, Yet
1. He declares the singular love of God toward us, in making us his sons;
3. who therefore ought obediently to keep his commandments;
11. as also to love one another as brothers.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
1 John 3:2

     1145   God, transcendent
     1194   glory, divine and human
     1445   revelation, responses
     1466   vision
     5013   heart, divine
     5023   image of God
     5149   eyes
     5195   veil
     5977   waiting
     6201   imperfection, and God's purposes
     6609   adoption
     7950   mission, of Christ
     8117   discipleship, benefits
     8441   goals
     8738   evil, victory over
     9105   last things
     9110   after-life
     9130   future, the
     9413   heaven, inheritance
     9414   heaven, community of redeemed
     9615   hope, results of

1 John 3:1-2

     6610   adoption, descriptions
     6717   reconciliation, world to God

1 John 3:1-3

     2565   Christ, second coming
     8106   assurance, nature of
     9613   hope, as confidence

1 John 3:1-6

     1065   God, holiness of

1 John 3:2-3

     1620   beatitudes, the
     6611   adoption, privileges and duties
     6746   sanctification, means and results
     8115   discipleship, nature of
     8164   spirituality
     8206   Christlikeness
     8244   ethics, and grace
     8271   holiness, purpose
     8348   spiritual growth, nature of
     8349   spiritual growth, means of
     9315   resurrection, of believers

The Purifying Hope
Eversley, 1869. Windsor Castle, 1869. 1 John iii. 2. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Let us consider this noble text, and see something, at least, of what it has to tell us. It is, like all God's messages, all God's laws, ay, like God's world in which we live and breathe,
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons

Second Sunday after Trinity Exhortation to Brotherly Love.
Text: 1 John 3, 13-18. 13 Marvel not, brethren, if the world hateth you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath the world's goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III

The Growth and Power of Sin
'And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering: But unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Love that Calls us Sons
'Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God....'--1 John iii. 1. One or two points of an expository character will serve to introduce what else I have to say on these words. The text is, I suppose, generally understood as if it pointed to the fact that we are called the sons of God as the great exemplification of the wonderfulness of His love. That is a perfectly possible view of the connection and meaning of the text. But if we are to
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

The Unrevealed Future of the Sons of God
'Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.'--1 John iii. 2. I have hesitated, as you may well believe, whether I should take these words for a text. They seem so far to surpass anything that can be said concerning them, and they cover such immense fields of dim thought, that one may well be afraid lest one should spoil them by even attempting to dilate on them. And
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

The Purifying Influence of Hope
'And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.'--1 John iii. 3. That is a very remarkable 'and' with which this verse begins. The Apostle has just been touching the very heights of devout contemplation, soaring away up into dim regions where it is very hard to follow,--'We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.' And now, without a pause, and linking his thoughts together by a simple 'and,' he passes from the unimaginable splendours of the Beatific Vision
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

Practical Righteousness
Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.'--1 John iii. 7. The popular idea of the Apostle John is strangely unlike the real man. He is supposed to be the gentle Apostle of Love, the mystic amongst the Twelve. He is that, but he was the 'son of thunder' before he was the Apostle of Love, and he did not drop the first character when he attained the second. No doubt his central thought was, 'God is Love'; no doubt that thought had
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

The Meaning of Sin, and the Revelation of the True Self
"In this we have come to know what love is, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."--1 JOHN III. 16. It is important that we should arrive at some clearer understanding of the nature of sin. Let us approach the question from the side of the Divine Indwelling. The doctrine of the Divine Immanence, in things and in persons, that doctrine which we are to-day slowly recovering, is rescued from pantheism by holding fast at the same time to the Christian
J. H. Beibitz—Gloria Crucis

How to Fertilize Love
Love is the greatest thing in earth or heaven. Out of it flows most of the things that are worth while in life. Love of relatives, love of friends, and love of the brethren (1 John 3: 14) make life worth living. There is no heart so empty as the heart that is without love. There is no life so joyful as the love-filled life. Love puts a song in the heart, a sparkle in the eye, a smile on the lips, and makes the whole being glad. And God's love is greater than all else. He who has God's love has a
Charles Wesley Naylor—Heart Talks

Vanity of Human Glory.
"The world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not."--1 John iii. 1 Of St. Simon and St. Jude, the Saints whom we this day commemorate, little is known[1]. St. Jude, indeed, still lives in the Church in his Catholic epistle; but of his history we only know that he was brother to St. James the Less, and nearly related to our Lord and that, like St. Peter, he had been a married man. Besides his name of Jude or Judas, he is also called Thaddaeus and Lebbaeus in the Gospels. Of St. Simon we only
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII

The First Fruits of the Spirit
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Rom. 8:1 1. By "them which are in Christ Jesus," St. Paul evidently means, those who truly believe in him; those who, "being justified by faith, have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." They who thus believe do no longer "walk after the flesh," no longer follow the motions of corrupt nature, but "after the Spirit"; both their thoughts, words, and works are under
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

The End of Christ's Coming
"For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." 1 John 3:8. 1. Many eminent writers, heathen as well as Christian, both in earlier and later ages, have employed their utmost labour and art in painting the beauty of virtue. And the same pains they have taken to describe, in the liveliest colours, the deformity of vice; both of vice in general, and of those particular vices which were most prevalent in their respective ages and countries. With equal care
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." 1 John 3:9. 1. It has been frequently supposed, that the being born of God was all one with the being justified; that the new birth and justification were only different expressions, denoting the same thing: It being certain, on the one hand, that whoever is justified is also born of God; and, on the other, that whoever is born of God is also justified; yea, that both these gifts of God are given to every believer in one and the same moment. In one
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

The Beatific vision
"Millions of years my wondering eyes Shall o'er thy beauties rove; And endless ages I'll adore The glories of thy love." We are rejoiced to find such a verse as this, for it tells us that our curiosity shall be satisfied, our desire consummated, our bliss perfected. "WE SHALL SEE HIM AS HE IS." Heaven shall be ours, and all we ever dreamed of him shall be more than in our possession. By the help of God's mighty Spirit, who alone can put words in our mouths, let us speak first of all concerning the
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 2: 1856

A Present Religion
It is astonishing how distance blunts the keen edge of anything that is disagreeable. War is at all times a most fearful scourge. The thought of slain bodies and of murdered men must always harrow up the soul; but because we hear of these things in the distance, there are few Englishmen who can truly enter into their horrors. If we should hear the booming of cannon on the deep which girdles this island; if we should see at our doors the marks of carnage and bloodshed; then should we more thoroughly
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858

The Death of Christ for his People
"He laid down his life for us."--1 John 3:16. COME, believer and contemplate this sublime truth, thus proclaimed to thee in simple monosyllables: "He laid down his life for us." There is not one long word in the sentence; it is all as simple as it can be; and it is simple because it is sublime. Sublimity in thought always needs simplicity in words to express itself. Little thoughts require great words to explain them; little preachers need Latin words to convey their feeble ideas, but great thoughts
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 46: 1900

The Warrant of Faith
We sing, and sing rightly too-- "My soul, no more attempt to draw Thy life and comfort from the law," for from the law death cometh and not life, misery and not comfort. "To convince and to condemn is all the law can do." O, when will all professors, and especially all professed ministers of Christ, learn the difference between the law and the gospel? Most of them make a mingle-mangle, and serve out deadly potions to the people, often containing but one ounce of gospel to a pound of law, whereas,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 9: 1863

The Way of Life.
(Second Sunday after Trinity.) 1 JOHN iii. 14. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." The writings of S. John the Evangelist breathe forth love as a flower garden does sweetness. Here lies the secret of S. John's title, "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Love begets love, and the disciple was so near to the heart of his Master because he loved much. When the text was written he was a very old man, and Bishop of Ephesus. It was in that fair and famous
H. J. Wilmot-Buxton—The Life of Duty, a Year's Plain Sermons, v. 2

"But Ye have Received the Spirit of Adoption, Whereby we Cry, Abba, Father. "
Rom. viii. 15.--"But ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God," 1 John iii. 1. It is a wonderful expression of love to advance his own creatures, not only infinitely below himself, but far below other creatures, to such a dignity. Lord, what is man that thou so magnified him! But it surpasseth wonder, that rebellious creatures, his enemies, should have, not only
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

"Whereby we Cry, Abba, Father. "
Rom. viii. 15.--"Whereby we cry, Abba, Father." As there is a light of grace in bestowing such incomparably high dignities and excellent gifts on poor sinners, such as, to make them the sons of God who were the children of the devil, and heirs of a kingdom who were heirs of wrath; so there is a depth of wisdom in the Lord's allowance and manner of dispensing his love and grace in this life. For though the love be wonderful, that we should be called the sons of God; yet, as that apostle speaks,
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

"And for Sin Condemned Sin in the Flesh. "
Rom. viii. 3.--"And for sin condemned sin in the flesh." The great and wonderful actions of great and excellent persons must needs have some great ends answerable to them. Wisdom will teach them not to do strange things, but for some rare purposes, for it were a folly and madness to do great things to compass some small and petty end, as unsuitable as that a mountain should travail to bring forth a mouse. Truly we must conceive, that it must needs be some honourable and high business, that brought
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

What is Sanctification?
Scripturally, the word sanctification has three meanings: First, separation; second, dedication; third, spirit-filling. Webster's definition of it is as follows: "1. Sanctification is the act of God's grace by which the affections of man are purified, or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to a supreme love of God; also, the state of being thus purified or sanctified. 2. The act of consecrating, or setting apart for a sacred purpose." "Sanctifier. One who sanctifies or makes holy; specifically,
J. W. Byers—Sanctification

The Sinner Arraigned and Convicted.
1. Conviction of guilt necessary.--2. A charge of rebellion against God advanced.--3. Where it is shown--that all men are born under God's law.--4. That no man hath perfectly kept it.--5. An appeal to the reader's conscience on this head, that he hath not.--6. That to have broken it, is an evil inexpressibly great.--7. Illustrated by a more particular view of the aggravations of this guilt, arising--from knowledge.--8. From divine favors received.--9. From convictions of conscience overborne.--10.
Philip Doddridge—The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul

The Solidarity of the Human Family
Every man has worth and sacredness as a man. We fixed on that as the simplest and most fundamental social principle of Jesus. The second question is, What relation do men bear to each other? DAILY READINGS First Day: The Social Impulse and the Law of Christ And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, trying him: Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is
Walter Rauschenbusch—The Social Principles of Jesus

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