Called Children of God: All Saints Day (Observed) - 1 John 3:1-3 / Pastor Ted Giese
Called Children of God: All Saints Day (Observed) - 1 John 3:1-3 / Sunday November 2nd 2014 / Pastor Ted Giese
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." I have a sister, my wife has twin brothers, you might have brothers and sisters in your family too. If you have a brother or a sister, or brothers and sisters, then you have biological parents - two people got together and the result was children. Human families can be messed up, they can be wonderful, they can be broken they can be on-the-mend, they can be strong, they can be fragile, they can be complicated or super straightforward. A British writer, Jane Howard once commented, "Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one." As Christians we are part of a family, and St. John, the same St. John who wrote the Gospel of John, the book of Revelation and this letter talks about us as children of God. If you are a child of God, then you are part of God's Family. How do we become part of that family? How do, how did - we become the Children of God? Is it the same as how we became children to our earthly mother and father?
We often hear people call each other brothers and sisters in Christ even though they are not from the same biological family, how far does that extend? In our congregation here at Mount Olive we are brothers and sisters in Christ, right now in Regina we have five Lutheran Church Canada congregations, if you count the other ones in our circuit we have seven congregation, across Saskatchewan there are more, across Canada there are even more - they all are our brothers and sister in Christ; then there are other fellow Christians Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Baptist, other Lutherans and all sorts of various other Christians and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ too! But how far does that all extend? Does it go further? How big is God's family? How many children are there? - Yesterday (Nov 1st) was All Saints Day and as we celebrate and observe All Saints Day today we remember all the saints, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ too. That includes Biblical saints like Peter, James and John and Mary, Martha, and Elizabeth and later Christians like Martin Luther, Augustine, and Polycarp of Smyrna and Elizabeth of Hungary, Perpetua and Felicitas and countless others. Even Old Testament Saints like David, Moses, and Isaiah and Ruth, Sarah and Hannah. You may have lived your whole life never really even knowing that there were Christians in Iraq until ISIS started beheading them and forcing them into slavery, yet they too are your brothers and sisters in Christ, they too are part of God's Family, they are His Children. How is it that we, all together, are brothers and sisters in Christ - even when we have never personally met these people? Why should we all be called children of God?
We are called children of God because of Jesus. Anyone who has the Son of God as brother has God as their heavenly Father, He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus and God the Father are eternal - there was never a time when the Father existed and Christ His Son did not exist. Their relationship to each other has always been and always will be one of Father and Son. When we become children of God we are brought into that relationship. Therefore, if Jesus is your brother than you have a heavenly Father just as Jesus does. In Christ Jesus you have a family no matter what your earthly family might be like - as a Christian you are not without a family.
St. John tells us in his Gospel how after the supper on the night when Jesus was betrayed, the night before His crucifixion - knowing that He would die and then be risen from the dead and then ultimately ascend into heaven until His return on the Last Day - St. John tells us that, on that evening, Jesus spoke to His disciples and said to them, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you."
Can you here the language of family, of children, in Jesus we are not orphans, we always have a brother in Christ Jesus and a father in God the Father. He promises to come to us, He comes to us in His Word, in His Supper, and He promises to come to us on the Last Day. In the mean time we have the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit who gives us the gift of faith, who opens our lips to sing God's praise, to confess Jesus as Lord. The Holy Spirit gives us Faith in Jesus our brother. Faith in God our Father. St. John writes, "No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also." St. Paul writes in Romans, "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
St. John tells us in his Gospel about the love of God for us when he records Jesus' words, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him." When St. John in 1 John writes, "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God," this is the kind of love that He gives, He gives us His only Son: Jesus is the love of God, "God is love." And now Jesus is your brother and because the Father has given Him to you, you are now God's Children. Jesus has sent you the Holy Spirit until He comes and St Paul confirms this saying, "you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ."
The Holy Spirit gives you your faith, He cultivates your growth in the faith: The Holy Spirit opens your mouth to confess that faith, and provides you with a repentant heart that believes. Out of love you are given a concrete moment to point to, where you can have assurance that these things are now yours: That moment is your baptism, the place where you can be certain that you have received these precious gifts, the place where you are baptized into Christ Jesus. St. Paul says, "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with [Jesus] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ [Jesus] was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." This is for everyone - the young, the old - the infant, Jesus says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," all nations, that's everyone, that's you.
On this celebration of All Saints Day St John says to you, "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when [Christ Jesus] appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see [Christ Jesus] as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in [Jesus] purifies himself as [Christ Jesus] is pure." - this is the family you are baptized into. This is what being a Child of God means - you live in the hope, you trust the promises, keep the faith and when you fail you turn back to Jesus over and over and over again, you turn back to that baptism over and over and over again, we encourage each other to do this along the Way, because sometimes we forget, or get out of the habit of returning to God, and like a little child we need to be taken by the hand, we need to be reminded of who we are, so that we can trust in it all over again. We need to be reminded that our entry into God's family is not like our entry into our earthly family, Jesus says, "no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit." For this reason we need to be reminded every week, every day that "what we will be has not yet appeared," and that on the Last Day when Christ Jesus appears we shall be like Him.
"Good" you say, "because when I look at myself now I'm not like Jesus, I'm not like Him, as part of God's family I am a mess! As a child of God I'm a disaster," Each and every one of us can say the same - that is the first part of the spirit of repentance, the second part is the part where we say, "I want to do better," what follows is forgiveness; We trust that Christ Jesus is the one who did actually do better, in fact better than better, He did perfect and that perfectness is applied to you. Holy Baptism is that moment you can point to and say, "There, at that moment I know it to be certain and true, that it is mine. That God's promises are mine. And I will turn to God and say 'thank You, give it to me every day. Give me that forgiveness every day.'" Family can be hard, forgiveness opens doors, Jesus' forgiveness opens the door to everlasting life. "Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one," and in Jesus you have one. Today Kruz Wendall and Chase Hollinger become your newest brothers in Christ, fellow children of God in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Jane Howard quote, "Quotations For The Fast Lane," Richard W. Pound, 2013, pg 189.
 1-3 John Concordia Commentary, Bruce G. Schuchard, pg 322.
 1 John 5:20, "He is the true God and eternal life."
 John 14:15-20
 1 John 2:23
 Romans 10:9
 John 3:16-17
 1 John 4:8
 Romans 8:15-17
 Romans 6:3-4
 Matthew 28:19
 John 3:5-6