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…
1. The privilege itself is to be "called the sons of God." Mark, not subjects or servants, but sons; and to be called the sons of God is to be the sons of God.
2. The fountain and first rise is the "love of the Father," who is everywhere represented as the first Cause of our blessedness. God's love is nothing else but His goodwill and resolution to impart such great privileges to us; He did it because He would do it; He was resolved to do it, and took pleasure in it.
3. The wonderful degree in the expression of His love, "What manner of love." The expression noteth not only the quality, but quantity.
4. The note of attention, or the terms used exciting our attention, "Behold." There is a threefold "behold" in Scripture, and they are applicable to this place; as —
(1) The behold of demonstration, which is referred to a thing,, or person present, and noteth the certainty of sense (John 1:29).
(2) The behold of admiration, or awakening our drowsy minds, when any extraordinary thing is spoken of (Lamentations 1:12). So here in the case of good, is there any love like unto this love? And all is that we may entertain it with wonder and reverence.
(3) The behold of gratulation, as rejoicing and blessing ourselves in the privilege (Psalm 121:4).
I. THERE IS SUCH A RELATION AS THAT OF FATHER AND CHILDREN BETWEEN GOD AND HIS PEOPLE.
1. It proceedeth from a distinct cause, His special and peculiar love, not from that common goodness and bounty which He expresseth to all His creatures (Psalm 145:9). But this is the special act of His grace or of His great love (Ephesians 2:4, 5).
2. The foundation of this relation is not our being which we have from Him as a Creator, but our new being which we have from Him as a Father in Christ.
3. The whole commerce and communion that is between us and Him is on God's part fatherly, on our part childlike.
II. THAT THIS IS A BLESSED AND GLORIOUS PRIVILEGE will appear if we consider —
1. The person adopting, the great and glorious God, who is so far above us, so happy within Himself, and needeth not us nor our choicest love and service; who had a Son of His own, Jesus Christ, the eternally-begotten of the Father, "the Son of His love," in whom His soul found such full complacency and delight.
2. The persons who are adopted — miserable sinners.
3. The fountain of this mercy and grace, or that which moved God, was His love: this was that which set Hts power and mercy at work to bring us into this estate.
(1) This was an eternal love; the first foundation of it was laid in the election of God; there is the bottom stone in this building.
(2) It was a free love: "I will love them freely."(3) It is special, peculiar love, not common to the world; yet this love was bestowed upon us.
(4) It is a costly love, considering the way how it is brought about.
4. The dignity itself nakedly considered; it is a greater honour them the world can afford to us, a matter to be rather wondered at than told.
5. It is not a naked and empty title, but giveth us a right to the greatest privileges imaginable.
(1) With respect to the present state; and there —
(a) He will give us the Holy Spirit to be our sanctifier, guide, and comforter.
(b) He giveth us an allowance of such temporal things, of outward mercies, as are convenient for us (Matthew 6:25, 30).
(2) With respect to the life to come. Eternal blessedness is the fruit of adoption (Romans 8:17).
III. BELIEVERS OUGHT TO BE EXCITED TO THE EARNEST CONSIDERATION OF IT.
1. To quicken our thankfulness, which is the chief motive and principle of gospel obedience.
2. That we may keep up the joy of our faith and comfort in afflictions from the world. Though we be God's children, yet the greater part of the world treateth us as slaves. It doth support us often and frequently to consider the world cannot hate us so much as God loveth us.
3. That we may be satisfied and contented with our portion; if you have God to your Father, what though you be straitened in the world?
4. To stir us up to be exemplary in holiness; for if God be matchless in His love we should be singular in our holiness; our return must carry proportion with our receipts.
5. We should consider it, that we may clear up our interest the more in it and not foolishly content ourselves with an inferior happiness. The use that I shall make of it is to persuade you to put in for a share in this blessed privilege. To direct you in this, let me tell you —
(1) That this new relation dependeth on the new birth, and that none are adopted but those that are regenerated and renewed to the image and likeness of God; all others, though called Christians, are degenerate children.
(2) Regeneration is God's act; but repentance and faith, which are the immediate issues of it, are ours, and you must enter by the strait gate if you would enter into God's family and obtain the privileges of it.
(3) If you would have the privileges of children you must perform the duties of children; we catch at privileges but neglect duty. Now the great duty of children is to love, please, and honour their father.
(4) If we would enjoy the privileges of the family we must submit to the discipline of the family.
(T. Manton, D. D.)
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.