April 22, 2012
Third Sunday of Easter
1 John 3:1-7
The 1969 Baltimore Colts (long before they moved to Indianapolis) were one of the greatest teams in the history of the NFL and certainly the overwhelming favorite to beat the lowly New York Jets in Super Bowl III. A few days before the game, Joe Namath, the celebrated quarterback of the Jets, confidently guaranteed victory. Actually, that was more psychological gamesmanship than authentic confidence, for he had no real way of knowing what would happen in an event that had not taken place.
Although it worked for Namath in an athletic contest, would you want to stand before God with nothing more than bravado? No, none of us would. Does that mean we cannot have confidence today for a judgment event that has not occurred? The answer is yes; we can have confidence. That confidence, however, is not in anything we have done or can predict doing. Rather, our confidence is in what Christ has done for us. Our passage shows us three ways of how we can live a life testifying with true confidence in Christ.
I. Enter the position of sonship (v. 3:1).
While it is true that every human is a creation of God, not every human is a child of God. Sonship means we have been:
• Regenerated by the Son (
• Received by God. This accompanies regeneration. God, who is holy and perfect, receives sinful broken humans as an act of His love and approval of His Son’s sacrifice. The fact God would receive us should amaze us.
• Rejected by the world (v. 3:1a). This does not mean we should be antagonistic or belligerent. We don’t have to be, for the world system under the sway of the evil one automatically will be at odds with our allegiance to Christ.
It is important to remember our adoption into God’s family carries with it an indelible mark of our spiritual family heritage.
II. Enlist in the practice of righteousness (vv. 2:29; 3:7).
Christ is our example of righteousness. He is the model for our actions. Love, teach, rebuke and forgive as He did. Let others see Him in and through you.
Maybe that seems overwhelming, but remember this is part of your birthright as a child of God. Years ago, my wife sprained her ankle and walked around several days with a severe limp. One of our daughters, who was about 3 at the time, began walking with a limp, too. I asked if anything was wrong with her foot. She said, “No, I just want to walk like mommy!” Remembering that story convicts me of my need to walk as did Christ.
III. Inherit the promise of hope (v. 3:2).
Hope is not wishing for something that may or may not happen. It is the settled assurance of God’s promises. Those promises are anticipated now. We can sense John’s excitement when he said, “Not yet.” He knew our walk now is in anticipation of something greater, something that will be revealed at Christ’s coming.
We can, however, begin our hopeful walk by realizing the inheritance we have in Christ. My mother once told me she was going to write my brothers out of her will and leave everything to me. I said, “No way, I’m going to need help paying your bills.” Christ has not left us an inheritance of bills to pay. On the contrary, He has paid our spiritual bills and commands us to walk with hope.
The Jets won Super Bowl III long ago (though perhaps not this year), but not because of Joe Namath’s bold confidence. They simply outplayed the Colts. We, however, can walk with confidence of ultimate victory because the battle already has been won on an old wooden cross.