‘Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure’ (1 John 3:2-3).
The apostle John begins his first letter, in the New Testament, with an exclamation of astonishment as he points his readers to two things: what the love of God had already accomplished (ET, December 2013) and what it would yet accomplish.
John writes: ‘Beloved, now we are the children of God’ (v. 2). This is what the love of God has bestowed, and imponderably wonderful it is. But there is more! That same love is going to take all of God’s children into an unspeakably glorious future.
There is in verse 2 an intermingling of the uncertain and the certain. What is uncertain? John writes: ‘It has not yet been revealed what we shall be’. The full details about ‘what we shall be’ have not been released yet.
The future of the children of God will be of such a nature that the greatest flights of imagination of which we are now capable can get us nowhere near the total reality. What shall we be? We will have to wait and see!
The future with a punch
But the uncertainty John expresses has to do only with the specific details. He is not expressing uncertainty about the future itself. On the contrary, he emphatically adds: ‘But we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is’.
God’s children are not uncertain about the Lord Jesus coming again. Not at all! That is in the blessed ‘we know’ category. Furthermore, God’s children are not uncertain about being like the Lord Jesus. That is also in the ‘we know’ category.
Jesus is going to come for his people. They are going to see him and the mere sight of him is going to transform them into his likeness. Let’s allow the apostle Paul to chime in at this point.
He says, ‘For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself’ (Philippians 3:20-21).
While these things are in the future, they significantly influence the present. This is the future with a present punch. So John adds: ‘And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure’ (v. 3).
If, by the grace of God, we are anticipating future glory, we will make it our business to live holy lives in this present world. Let us read carefully the apostle’s words, so we can completely open our eyes to see anew the astonishing love of God.