5/4/03, E3B

“King's Kids”
I John 3: 1-7

n his effort to explain how we are united with God through our faith, John the Apostle, Jesus' best friend, reminds us that we are already his children. We are not strangers or servants. We are not temporary tourists. We belong to God's family already. As the popular phrase says, "We Are Somebody!" We are the King's Kids!

"See how much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are! But the people who belong to this world don't know God, so they don't understand that we are his children. Yes, dear friends, we are already God's children"
I John 3: 1-2a, NLT

We who are a part of the Kingdom of God are mutually bonded together by our common experience with Christ's death and resurrection. Our souls have been captured by the story of the Cross, his suffering has forgiven our sin and his resurrection has given us hope. As human sons and daughters in the family of God, our elder brother is Jesus Christ himself. Together, as one, we are all kindred souls bound by love.

As children of the King we are a part of his royal family. This means that we are special in his sight. We have privileges. We can approach the throne of God anytime we please. The Father will listen to our requests and will answer every prayer. As a Father, God wants the very best for us and will provide the grace to enable us to excel. He monitors our progress. You might say that he reads and signs our report cards. However, God Almighty has given us free will and we must cooperate with his plan and do our part in growing up from childhood toward maturity. Hopefully we will become mature in our faith; however, even as adults we will always be our Heavenly Father's adult children.

Just as with our earthly families in which we grow up to become, in many ways, like our parents, when we are children of the King we naturally want to be like him. God Almighty, who created the universe, is our example of virtue and morality. He is absolutely perfect and we have a desire to imitate him.

Most children select role models that they set out to imitate. As a Little Leaguer I wanted to be able to hit like Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider. This unattainable goal made me a better hitter than if I had set up some mediocre player as my role model. Seeking to be the best will get us farther along than if we just set out to become average.

When I felt called to preach I changed my major from Business to Religion. My business courses have not been wasted. However, I was on fire for knowledge and ate up my new field of study, which became my joy that continues to this day. I was fortunate to have as my major professor, Dr. Marling Elliott. I thought of him as a Saint and a Scholar, and I still do. I made Prof. Elliott my new role model. I began to dress like him and adopted his vocabulary and began to imitate his approach to life. I dived into his New Testament Greek class with gusto and was amazed at how much I was being remolded by my new love for learning. Yet, Prof. Elliott pointed me to a higher role model in Jesus.

John the Beloved Apostle is sharing this same kind of experience in his first epistle. To paraphrase, "Whenever we give our lives to the Father, and accept Christ as our role model, we have a new desire to overcome sin, and all else that has made us less than what we can become through God's grace."

So, the question that haunts us today is, "Do we really experience ourselves as being children of God's family?" If we can answer that question affirmatively we can begin to have some spiritual progress. It's not as important that we say that we have made progress, but that we show it in our living.

Another helpful grace that God gives us to enable faith to grow is our hope of glory. Just as we know that we belong to God's family here on earth, we also can know that we will continue to abide in his family in heaven. God's family can never get too big: The Church never hangs out a "No Vacancy" sign. God wants all of his children to do all they can to help build up the Kingdom on earth and in heaven. As Kings Kids we are somewhat like one child telling another child where to find free ice cream.

Although we do not know exactly what heaven will be like, one of the images that I have is of a bunch of kids frolicking in a crowded swimming pool on a hot summer day all hollering out to me, "Come on in the water is great!"

We do know that when we all get to heaven we will finally be able to understand all things. We will be given a permanent glorified life finally free from sin. We will be reunited with our family and friends. It will be beyond our wildest imaginations. C. S. Lewis said that our attempts to explain what heaven will be like are similar to trying to explain the outside world to a child born in a dungeon, and never having seen daylight. Later, Lewis began to think of this world as "Shadowlands," and heaven as being the real world. In Screwtape Letters he explains that God's view is that birth is chiefly important as the qualification for human death, which is the gateway to heaven. We were made for it, rather than it being made for us; and we will not be ourselves until we are glorified.

Since all human beings have an innate longing for eternal life, one bit of experiential evidence that has meant something to me is that since we have this natural longing which life can never satisfy, is it not logical that we were made for another level of existence? Although it is taught in most cultures that we will survive death; however, in Christ we have the only example of a man who died but was resurrected as an example of our future state. It is Great News when John says that, "We will be like him" (v. 2) If that were all the advanced insight we had of heaven, it would be sufficient.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

5/4/03, E3B