The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz. Click here: 1 John 2:28-3:3, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: 1 John 2:28-3:3. for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.
1 John 2:28-3:3, The Assurance of Hope:
- Welcome back to 1 John & the Marks of Christian Assurances. We’ve named that our series as the Apostle John brings us a message full of assurances concerning our Salvation. Thus far throughout John’s Epistle, we’ve seen encouragement, exhortation and warning! And this morning we get to hope.
- In 1 Corinthians 15:19, Paul says “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” In other words, life without hope is bleak. See, if you don’t have anything to hope for beyond this life, that is the worst form of misery because this life vanishes quickly, and at the very best – this life is short and full of trouble.
- So if all your hope is only tied to what happens here, you’ll only know misery. Yet, that’s how it is for most people. However, our portion this morning points us to a place where we can know hope regardless of our earthly experiences.
- Therefore, Proverbs 10:28 rightly says, “The hope of the righteous shall be gladness, but the hope of the wicked shall perish.” It’s a terrible thing to have all your hope in this world, all your hope in a hopeless system of this world. This is to have no hope. And so we come to 1 John where our section shows us 2 comforts that point to the assurance of our hope in Christ.
1. Assurance One – Abide in Righteousness:
- Text – 1 John 2:28-29
- Explanation – “Abide in Him” is key to this first point! We could say that abiding in Jesus will give us a burning zeal and enable us to grasp all opportunities to glorify His Name.
- Spurgeon put it like this, “Abiding in Jesus is not a passive thing; it is an active thing. We must give ourselves, mentally and spiritually, to living in Jesus. We abide in him, not by a physical law, but by a mental and spiritual law, by which the greatness of divine love and goodness holds us fast to the Lord Jesus.”
- Yet, not only are we called to abide in Him; but we also know that He abides in us. It is a two-way relationship. “the real reason for your abiding in Christ lies in the operation of his unchanging love and grace.”
- Illustration – So yes, we are only capable of abiding as He enables, as He works in us. Yet, it is the abiding that comforts us with the hope that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming. We don’t know when He is coming, and that makes our abiding all the more purposeful.
- It is a call that we will watch for Him, and be always ready so that we may not be ashamed at His coming. Again Spurgeon challenged his congregation once, saying; “live from day to day in duty and in devotion, that your Lord’s coming would be timely. Go about your daily business and abide in Him, and then His coming will be a glorious delight to you.”
- Application – Let’s go back to John’s words in verse 29. To know means to have assurance! And what are we to know? That God is righteous. See, knowing Him in His righteousness means to know by experience.
- And in this case the readers know from personal experience that one of the signs of being born again is the practice of right behaviour. It is an evidence of whether one is truly born again. It is when what you know reflects what you have been taught.
- Conclusion – In short, what you say you believe about God is most accurately reflected in how you behave. If you say you know God is righteous and habitually live an unrighteous life, it is doubtful that you truly know God!
- But doing righteousness is proof of the new birth. Those truly born of God will resemble God in their behaviour. It is not describing perfection, but it does describe the direction of one’s life. So if one’s life is “Godward,” it is clear that you are in Christ. If one’s life is “earthward” so to speak, it is not clear what your birth status is, but the suggestion is that you are not born again.
- Bridge – And so the person who has been “born of God” through faith in Christ knows God. And because he knows Him, he lives a life of obedience: he does not practice sin. Don’t mistake the point of verse 29. It is not saying that righteous behaviour is the cause or condition of the new birth, but just the opposite.
- Righteous lives show God at work. And the fruit of abiding is the practice of righteousness, which gives evidence of one’s relationship to and fellowship with the Christ. This is the comfort of hope. But there is more;
2. Assurance Two – Loved as Children:
- Text – 1 John 3:1-3
- Explanation – Now, as we look at our Christian hope, we can understand that we live in hope because we have been made children of God. We have been made children of God because we were born of Him. We were born of Him because He chose to love us with a saving love.
- He brought us as close as we could get, and adopted us as His own beloved children. All of this is affected by God’s sovereign love. Therefore we have this hope because He loved us into this hope.
- Illustration – Here’s how we can look at this. God loved you when you were a sinner and undeserving. He loved you when you were a stranger. He loved you when you were alienated from Him. He loved you when you were His enemy and He made you His child.
- So if He loved you and gave you this marvellous hope and made you His child when you were His enemy, will He not sustain you now that you are His child?
- Application – Listen to Romans 8:38-39, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- We have been loved into being children of God. The world doesn’t share this knowledge. The world cannot receive the things of God. But God’s children, by faith must “overcome the world.”
- One of the ways this can encourage us is that in our pursuit, we will be like Him. Don’t think John is ignorant and doesn’t know what we’ll be like. We will be glorified just as Christ is fully glorified. We can that we’ll be like Him and the ongoing encouragement is that we abide in His righteous and living in His love
- Conclusion – See for now, according to 1 Corinthians 13:12, “we see in a mirror dimly…” However, “then we’ll see face to face. Now we know in part; then we shall know fully, even as we have been fully known.”
- This is how Paul further describes it in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54: “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
- “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.””
- Charles Wesley said, “Changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place, till we cast our crowns before Him; lost in wonder, love and praise.”
- That’s the fixed hope which purifies. 1 Timothy 1:1 says, “Jesus Christ is our hope.” And in connection with hope, Paul speaks of waiting with eager expectation for the revelation of the children of God, waiting for the adoption as sons. We are waiting “for the righteousness for which we hope” (Gal 5:5) and for “the blessed hope” which is the glorious appearing of Jesus (Titus 2:13).
- Bridge – With this hope in mind, John says we purify ourselves. It means to pursue a pure life because we have hope, and anticipate being with Jesus. He is pure, and we should seek to live like Him. Philippians 1:10 says, “be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.“
- The good news is, in Christ, we already stand in purity and innocence. Spurgeon put it like this then, “Oh, what a blessed hope this is, — that, though we fall asleep, we shall surely wake again; and when we awaken, it will be in the likeness of the great Head of the family, and we ourselves shall be heirs of an inheritance in which there will be no sin and no corruption.”
- “That inheritance is kept for us, and we are kept for it; so the double keeping makes it doubly sure. Happy are the people to whom these verses apply.” So friends, our hope has these blessed features; it is guaranteed by abiding in righteousness and it is established by God’s love for us as His children which is the assurance of our hope.