1 John 3:1-6
Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not…
Here, you notice, that although St. John had been learning more and more about the love of God all his days, he does not trust himself to characterise it. I believe throughout eternity we shall never find the right word for it. Even if we think that we have made some such grand discovery as to present it to us in an altogether new light, we shall still go on discovering that there is more to be said about it. Mark, the love spoken of here is the love of the Father. This text takes us right back to the source from which all other blessings flow. That word "Father!" — there is scarcely a heart in which there does not seem to be awakened something like a sympathetic thrill at the sound — even those who are most estranged from God by sin and wicked works. Does it not answer to an inward yearning of our human hearts? Orphans are we, and desolate, unless we know that within the veil we have One who not only bears a Father's name but possesses a Father's heart. Now observe, this love is represented as being definitely bestowed, with a view to a specific end, and that end is in order that we might be called the sons of God. We might hay, Deer called the sons of God in the sense of creation, without any such love being bestowed upon us, without any gift being made. There was no particular difficulty in our being placed in such a position; indeed, as an historical fact, we are His offspring. Nor, again, was there any special difficulty in the way of His adopting a certain ecclesiastical relationship to us, standing to us in the relation of Father to an ecclesiastical theocracy, which He Himself established; there was no difficulty in that. But in order that He might stand in the relationship indicated to us in this sense, as "our Father," and put us in the position indicated by the word "son" in this passage, it was necessary that He should make such a manifestation of His love towards us as He has made in the Incarnation. Now we pass on to consider this special relationship, and the first thought that strikes me is this, that in order theft you and I might attain to it the love of God had first of all to surmount a stupendous difficulty. There was a question which God represents Himself as putting to Himself, and that question is, "How shall I set thee amongst the children?" Oh, you say, by an act of God's sovereign power. But an act of God's sovereign power would not make us real children of His. The child partakes of the nature of his parent. Now, we have lost the nature of our spiritual Parent, we have inherited the nature of our earthly parent: the old Adam. We come into the world with an hereditary taint of rebellion against God. How many of us there are who, from our earliest days, have gone on living consistently with this start. Now, under those circumstances, how can God put us amongst the children? If God were to say to one of you, "You are My child," would that make you His child unless He were first to perform a moral miracle upon you? Now, God performs moral miracles, but He does it in a particular way. He so performs the miracle that in the actual performance of it our will shall be consciously cooperating with Him. "How shall I set thee among the children?" The answer is given in the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. There was only one way in which the love of God could achieve this marvellous result. It was to be done by a gift — the gift of Incarnate Love. What do we know about the love of God? I see it revealed in the human form of Jesus. What is that love of God like? I apprehend its character by gazing into the face of Jesus. What is it that the love of God actually does achieve? It achieves its very end, it achieves the end of bringing me, poor, guilty rebel as I am, into a filial relationship with God; enabling me to look up into God's face and say, "Thank God, I now am a child of God." How is this done? It is done by a new birth. How is this birth to be elected? "Ye must be born again." But how am I to pass from the old life into this new life of God? I am "born not of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of the will of God." How am I born? By complying with that will, by surrendering myself to the revealed love of God in the person of Christ. If at some great cost some boon which you very much require is brought within your reach, and if you spurn it, I venture to say it is impossible to cut your benefactor more to the heart than by such a line of conduct. Now, then, are you called a child of God? Does God call you so? Is it so? If not, why not? Don't say that God has made it so difficult. Do you think it probable that God should refuse the very boon which He has given His Son in order to bestow?
(A. H. M. H. Aitken.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.