Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Christian Life Viewed As Sonship (Part 1)

SERMON            GM14-022

SERIES:              Christian Living in a World of Chaos & Contradiction

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM

SUBTITLE:        The Christian Life Viewed as Sonship      (Part 1)

SCRIPTURE:     1 John 2:28-4:6

SUBJ:                  The evidence of Sonship

SUMMARY:       The claim of being a son of God is supported by specific evidence

SCHEME:           That Christians evaluate the evidence for their claim of being a child of God.



The Christian Life is Viewed as Son-ship
1 John 2:29
(Part 1)


A.   The Privilege of Son-ship

A missionary tells a story about a new convert who came in deep distress to see him. "No matter how much I pray, no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my Lord. I think I'm losing my salvation."

The missionary said, "Do you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house-trained; he never makes a mess; he is obedient; he is a pure delight to me.

Out in the kitchen I have a son, a baby son. He makes a mess, he throws his food around, he fouls his clothes, and he is a total mess.

But who is going to inherit my estate? Not my dog; my son is my heir. You are Jesus Christ's Son, and his heir because it is for you that He died." We are Christ's sons, we are the children of God not through our performance but by means of His grace.

B.   The Premise of John

This section of 1 John 2:28 through 4:6 reveals the character or the characteristic, the special quality or trait that make Christians different from non-Christians. Christians are children of God. As such they are, and you are Sons of God.

First of all, in our previous section John has shown that the Christian life is a life of Fellowship with God. Now John will show that the Christian life is to be viewed as Son-ship.

The family relationship is a much closer relationship than any other relationship on earth. Families are not like clubs, organizations, or social programs.

Clubs, organizations and such are tied together by mutual interests or experiences. Families, for better or for worse are tied together by blood, by birth

The Christian is born into the family of God. This characterization of the Christian life is an advance beyond the idea of fellowship. We can have fellowship with people who are not family members. But we can have a family relationship with those who are not family members.

          This principle of son-ship runs through this entire section:

          This leads us to the…

C.   The Purpose of John

The claim of being a son of God however, can and should be tested by the presence of certain traits, qualities, or characteristics John states that the one who lives a life of righteousness has been born of God – 1 John 2:29.

“…everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”

He restates this principle in 3:9:

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”
Not only are believers children of God:

·        They are marked by the fact that they practice righteousness
·        They love one another whereas the children of Satan do not

John clearly makes his case that true believers, the true children of God are marked by righteousness. This proves that they are in the family of God.

John will establish the basic standard for the test of Sonship.

John will unpack the traits of righteousness as a family test

John will then show how unrighteousness is incompatible with son-ship

Our theme is:  “Like Father, Like Son”

This is a good reminder for us all that the claim of being a child of God is tested and observed by the consistent practice of righteousness.

Proposition:  I propose to you that the claim of being a son, or a child of God is tested by your behavior

Interrogative SentenceHow can our claim of Sonship be validated?

Transitional SentenceThe passage in front of us identifies three test that proves your claim of being a Son of God.

Once again we see that our claim of being a Son or child of God is tested by practical and measureable means. In this case our claim of Sonship can be tested by three (3) very measurable and observable means:

·        Sonship is tested by practical means
·        Sonship is tested by love for other believers
·        Sonship is tested by Christological doctrine

[The first test of Sonship is that…]


          In this section Sonship is being submitted to the test of behavior. Whether a person has been born into the family of God can be known by the presence of family likeness in that person’s life.

          Because the underlying factor in this passage is spiritual birth. Just like the fact that certain traits and characteristics are passed to a child by natural childbirth, certain traits characteristics are passed to the person who has been born into the family of God.

          Note this: that John believes and teaches that these characteristics or traits are not just “inherited,” but they are visibly detected. IOW, it is possible to determine by the presence or the absence of these certain traits whether a person is really a child of God.

          I guess you could say it like this, “Like God the Father, like Child of God.” If you are a child or son of God you will manifest God likeness.

          This brings us to our first test. That is…

1B     Sonship demands the practice of righteousness (2:29-3:10)

This test begins in 2:29 and runs through 3:10. In this section John clearly demonstrates that righteousness is an identifying mark of the children of God.

John will unpack the basic truth or principle requiring righteousness; he will then marvel at the various benefits of righteousness, and he will unpack truths about why unrighteousness is incompatible with being a child or son of God.

[So, let’s dig in and see…]

1C     The Principle of Righteousness Stated (2:29)

          John will state the principle. John will use God as the example or the template to support this principle.

[So, let’s look at the exemplar or the template – the example]

1D     The Exemplar for the Principle       (29a)

                    ean eidhte oti dikaios estin

          “If you know that He is righteous…”

          John opens this section with a keynote declaration. Here is a fact, an indisputable fact:

He (God) is righteous.

          Don’t be thrown with the English translation of “If you know…” John is not doubting nor accusing his readers of doubting. This is a literary device referring to a known fact. It is stated as a rhetorical means in order to establish the point. There is no doubt here. Since you know…

          John uses this grammatical style to get his point across. Since you know as an assured fact that God is righteous, then you will logically conclude that anyone who acts like God or who practices righteousness has been born of God.
          “…you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”

          IOW, anyone who is measured or evaluaed by this principle will be in some form like God.

          Just like in 1:5-7 God-likeness is necessary for fellowship, God-likeness is necessary for Sonship. Another way of saying this is that God-likeness is the sure sign or result of true spiritual birth.                  

John assumes that it is true beyond any shadow of any doubt that God is righteous.

What is righteousness? What does it mean?

Righteousness denotes a connection with tradition or custom. It is applied to a person and it indicates “one who conforms or one who observes customs.

The Hebrew root word meant “straight” or “right”
The idea is of conformity to a standard.

God is revealed as a God of righteousness. His character                           or his nature is the standard.

God’s righteousness is that attribute of God by which                     God’s nature is seen to be the eternally perfect standard of what is right.

God is morally spotless in His character and actions. God               is upright, God is pure, God is untainted from any evil, or evil desires, evil motives, evil thoughts, evil words, or evil acts.

God is revealed in Scripture as a God of                                        righteousness. God is one who acts rightly in all His                       works and judgments.

“…shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”                           (Or right) (Genesis 18:25, ESV)

“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are                          justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just                             and upright is he.” (Deut 32:4, ESV)

[This is why you can trust God to do what is right, and                             allow what is best to happen to you. Everything that God                        does is right!

“For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds…”                  (Psalm 11:7, ESV)

“Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity and                              has brought it upon us, for the LORD our God is                                     righteous in all the works that he had done…” (Daniel                             9:14, ESV)

Even when trials, tribulations, tests, or calamities come                             into and upon our lives God is right or perfect in sending                         it or allowing.

The idea of righteousness is the idea of conformity to a                             standard, this standard is applied to God.

God always acts in accordance with what is right and he                           himself is the final standard of what is right. There is no                           standard outside of God.

If anyone can say, “Because I said so,” it is God! By the                            way, this may seem incidental to you, but God did not set               the standard, He is the standard. The standard has been                        set because God exists.

His nature is the standard. This is why every human                        being since Adam and Eve is a sinner. Every human                        being falls short, misses the mark of the standard, which                        is God, which is absolute absence of any and all evil.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory [the                         nature/character/person/standard] of God.” Romans 3:23,              ESV)

But take a look at God:

“O LORD, the God of Israel, you are just…” (Ezra                         9:25, ESV)

“Righteous are you O LORD, and right are your rules.”                 (Psalm 119:137, ESV)

“The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all                             his works.” (Psalm 145:17, ESV)

Jesus recognizes the righteousness of his Father in his                      prayer in John 17, “O righteous Father…” (John 17:25,                           ESV)

Paul inspired and taught by the HS knew God was                                    righteous when he spoke of his future reward to Timothy,

Henceforth, there is laid up for me the crow of                                 righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will                  award me on that Day…” (2 Timothy 4:8, ESV)

1 John 2:29 – “Little children, let no one deceive you.                     Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is                      righteous.” (1 John 1:9, ESV)

“And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,                         ‘Just [righteous] are you, O Holy One, who is and who                            was, for you brought these judgments.” (Rev 16:5, ESV)

So, John uses a third class condition sentence to demonstrate that he knew that his readers knew that God was righteous. God is the standard by which all righteousness is to be judged.

[God is he exemplar, the template, the standard. Secondly, John goes on and expands his point. We can see…]

                                    2D     The Extension of the Principle (2:29b)
                                                ginwskete oti kai pas o poiwn thn dikaiosunhv ez
        autou gegevvntai

  “…you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

  First of all, the verb “you know” can be either and imperative or an indicative. I think the context it to be used as an indicative.

  This simply means that what they know is a fact indeed. It is a truth.

 Like, the sun comes up in the east and goes to bed in the west. We know that. These readers know as anyone who has been born of God will practice righteousness. This is not a secret to them. 

Whether it was John, the current Elders, other apostles, pastors, or teachers, doesn’t matter –  what is crucial is that these readers know that it is a hard fact, those who practice as a lifestyle righteousness has been born again by God.

John knows his readers know already the fact that the children of God bear a resemblance to their heavenly Father.

 Second thing to note here, is that John makes it clear by the use of a present participle that he is merely thinking of one, isolated act of  righteousness, but the habitual practice of righteousness.

  IOW, this is the life pattern of the members of  God’s family

 We can understand it this way – the specific righteousness referred to is that that characterizes God the Father and is passed on to His children as a family characteristic.

 The person who is and continues to maker righteousness the practice of his life has been  regenerated in the past, and as a result he is now a child of God who reveals that fact by the family trait being visible in his life – righteousness.

How Does This Apply to You and Me?

First of all, the question or problem that should pop up about now, is what about all the lost people who perform works of “righteousness?”

You know, people like Mother Teresa, Bill Gates, or Mormons, or everyday people who do good or right things? We know they are not believers but they do what we do. They don’t steal, or kill, or rob banks. They love people and sacrifice for them and do humanitarian things.

All these things these people do are an abomination to God. They do not please God.

Roy Larkin writes:

          “Many people exhibit deeds of morality who are not born of God. Such morality     is the result of culture and comes from human kindness and is the exception, not the rule. The characteristic of life apart from God is unrighteousness, although that unrighteousness may be sprinkled with moral deeds and may have semblance of being right. Taken as a whole a godless world is an unrighteous world. [1]

We have to really see what John is saying here.

Again, John is convinced that God is righteous. God exercises this righteousness in relation to his creatures. All God’s attitudes and actions are in keeping with His holy nature. God is the standard that John sets up.

Those who live their lives in agreement with this standard give evidence that they are the children of God.

John says everyone, this includes every true believer with no exceptions. This doing righteousness denotes a life habit it is the prevailing principle of one’s life – it is not a single action or activity.

Why can John be so sure of that? And how do we answer the question of what does it mean to me?

The reason John can safely and correctly by the way say that this likeness of God will be present in each believers life is contained in the verb “born of him” The righteousness of God is passed on to His children. This family trait is not a matter of imitation, it is a matter of inherited family characteristics.  

Many will imitate good works, or righteous works. But in the end, they will not stand nor be of any benefit because they were imitations. They were not the result of being a Son of God.

Remember this test is not for the lost. It is not for the world. It is not for those outside of the body of Christ.
This test is for those who are in the body already. This test is for those who claim to be believers and have become members of the body based on that claim.

Listen, we don’t the hearts of people. We don’t know who is saved and who is not saved.

So, when some comes and desires to join North Kelso Baptist Church and gives testimony and evidence that they are born again, we accept them.

We do our homework, we call or visit their previous church, we meet with them, and we examine them. To the best of our ability we examine their claim of being a Christian and see if it is based on biblical truths.

If they “pass” then we admit them into the body. Then, if in time we do not see consistent righteousness from them then we can deduce that they are not really believers.

Some people do enough righteousness to get in the church. Then they stop. Not any morally upright person is a child of God.  Atheists who say they love the Lord or do good works are not believers. But righteous living is the sign of the new birth.

Doing what is not right, or habitual sinning is a sign that one is not born gain. As you not it is not the claim that saves it is the habitual God-like resemblance being worked out in righteous works show salvation has taken place.

Our theme has been:  “Like Father, Like Son”

This should be a good reminder to you all that the claim of being a child of God is tested and observed by the consistent practice of righteousness.

Proposition:  I have proposed to you that the claim of being a son, or a child of God is tested by your behavior

Next week Lord willing we will look at the last two sub-points to this section:

                   2C     The Privileges of Righteousness Suggested (3:1-3)
                   3C     The Pattern of Righteousness Supplied    (3:4-10)

But for now, what do you say we wrap this up?


Listen, Men May Perish by Seeming Righteousness as by Gross sins.

Joseph Alleine wrote: “It may be you never thought of this; but so it is, that a man may as certainly perish by his seeming righteousness and supposed graces—as by gross sins; and that is, when a man trusts to these as his righteousness before God, for satisfying His justice, appeasing His wrath, procuring His favor, and obtaining His pardon. This is to put Christ out of office, and make a Savior of our own duties and graces. Beware of this, O professing Christians; you are much in duties—but this one fly will spoil all the ointment. When you have done most and best, be sure to go out of yourselves—to Christ; reckon your own righteousness as filthy rags (Phil 3:9; Isa 64:6).” 

~ A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine

My goal this morning has been to encourage Christians to evaluate the evidence of their claim of being a child of God by finding consistent works of righteousness in their lives.

Exhortation:  I exhort you to be speak loudly of, to revel in, and to enjoy your claim of fellowship with God. But I exhort you to test your claim by these three grounds to ensure your claim is valid.

David wrote in Psalm 11:7, (ESV)

“For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.” (ESV)

Let’s pray! J

[1] Roy L. Laurin, First John, Life at Its Best, (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1987, pp. 102-102, 1957; reprinted ed.,)68

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