• Let Us Pray:  Lord God, Heavenly Father, we are concerned it is not yet revealed what we will be as Your children.  This is especially true given the temporal triumph we perceive evil having right now.  We pray as the Psalmist wrote - Please bring to an end the evil of sinners, but make straight the members of the righteous. 10 [Our] righteous shield is with [You], [You] Who saves the straight in heart. Comfort us and strengthen us as we await the coming of Your Son to bring an end to this generation.  We bring these petitions before You through Your Son Jesus, who reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and forevermore.  Amen.
  • Present: You may have heard of the federal legislation which passed the US House of Representatives called the Equality Act (HR 5 – 117th Congress).  By its title, one would think this is strictly about equality, but the title is somewhat deceiving.
    • The Equality Act amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identity[1] to the list of protected classes of people who cannot be discriminated against.  For review: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that protects employees against discrimination based on certain specified characteristics: race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. Under Title VII, an employer may not discriminate with regard to any term, condition, or privilege of employment[2].  The Supreme Court in a decision handed down recently had already broadened the definition of “sex” in the 1964 Act to include sexual orientation, but the Equality Act intends to make that a written part of federal law.  Christians are fair-minded people who realize *all* fall short of the glory of the Lord because of our sin, so what’s the problem here? Listen to just two direct quotes from the legislation now before the US Senate:
      • “(with respect to gender identity) an individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual's gender identity.[3]
      • “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.) shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title.”.
        • What this second quote means is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 *cannot* be used as a defense for churches such as ours which strive to adhere to the word of the Lord in what we believe, teach, and confess. Without the defense of the 1993 law, it is easy to imagine the belief in, and speaking of, God’s word regarding deviant sexual behavior will become “hate speech”.  The Equity Act is written in such a way as to deny people of faith, such as us, the ability to put our beliefs into words and action.
    • What does this mean for a child of God?  It can mean a lot of things, but today we want to look at this example of federal legislation in light of our Epistle reading for today.  I reread from 1Jn 3:02 - Beloved, now we are children of God, and it was not yet revealed what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him even as He is[4]. (CSRV)
  • Analysis: The Apostle John has referred to believers in Christ as children of God.  Being a child of God is a concept dating back to the early days of the Old Testament, but especially in light of who the prophet Daniel described God as the “Ancient of Days” in Dan 7:9.  We all would look like little children in the presence of someone who could be described as the “Ancient of Days”! 😊
    • We’ve discussed this a few times, and it is worth repeating how it is we become children of God.  It is through Baptism in which people become children of God.  The Apostle Paul in Gal 3:26-27 - 26 For you are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ[5].  When we were baptized, our sins were washed away through the water and the word. With sins forgiven, we became adopted sons of God.  Paul doubled-down in Gal 4:6-7 on this doctrine of baptism which made us children of God - Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God[6].  People don’t become an heir unless there is some sort of bloodline relationship.  We obtained that bloodline relationship through Jesus’ innocent suffering and death on a cross.  It was His blood which cleansed us of all sins.  We received that cleansing through baptism.
    • We can picture in our mind being an adopted child of God, because, like at the time of Paul in the 1st century, we have a process of legal adoption in 2021.  However, it is not clear what the appearance of and adopted son looks like.
      • For instance, does that mean we will physically look like the Father’s Son, Jesus?   Here’s a description from the Apostle John of that same “Ancient of Days” Daniel saw close to 700yrs earlier - 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze when it has been heated to a glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength[7].  The Ancient of Days was none other than Jesus, God the Father’s one and only Son. You can read on your own the incredible similarity of Daniel’s description of Jesus with John’s. However, this description is not what we will look like physically once we are purified through our exit from this sinful Age to live in heaven.
      • I want to digress for a moment and turn our attention to John ch#11 where we read of Jesus’ raising a man to life who had been dead for 4dys[8].  The man’s name was Lazarus, and he had two sisters who were part of the ministry tour Jesus conducted throughout Galilee and Judea.  As you can imagine, when you are traveling with a group of people for a period of time, warm friendships are formed.  Friendship bonds of love develop.  The brother of these two sisters, Mary and Martha, had died.  Jesus was nowhere in sight at the time of death.  That disturbed the sisters, because they rightfully believed that, had Jesus been there, Jesus may have healed Lazarus instead of Lazarus winding up dead.  They saw the healing miracles Jesus performed throughout His ministry. Jesus purposely waited 4dys before showing up.  In ancient times, it was a phenomenon that a person would get so sick they appeared to be dead, only to revive to some degree within 3dys.  However, this sort of revival was not seen with a person dead for 4dys.  When you think of Jesus and all of His glory, you probably imagine Jesus as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords having an appearance like the description of the Ancient of Days I read to you a moment ago.  And yet, Jesus’ true glory was revealed in the raising of Lazarus from the dead!  He didn’t become gleamingly brilliant white like He did the night of His Transfiguration.
      • This example which the Apostle John wrote about regarding Jesus’ miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead provided an example of the true glory of our Lord Jesus displayed in His power over death.  Glory was shown in the compassion Jesus showed for the people who loved Lazarus.  Here was Almighty God being so moved by the tears of those who suffered with the consequences of sin, that He too teared up.  His glory of love is what we will fully be when He appears on that final day.
    • The last half of our verse for today is - We know that when [Jesus] appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him even as He is.  Suffice it to say, we will not look like Jesus, the Ancient of Days, but we will look like He who is holy and righteous.  We will look that way because we are cleansed by Him.  He shares our humanity, as well as sharing oneness with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  This is how He can be a mediator between God and man.
      • There is no sin in Jesus.  There never was.  He led a perfect life, something only God could do while living in this sinful corrupt Age.  People who deny this and other aspects about Jesus are living in a lie.  None of us can go an hour without sinning.  The Apostle Paul wrote - 22 Claiming to be wise, [these deniers] became fools, 23 and they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible mankind, of birds, four-footed animals, and crawling creatures[9].  We will look like the incorruptible God who is holy and righteous, because that’s who He is.  We won’t die some day and come back reincarnated as a bird, or grow another pair of legs and feet as some of the deniers may think.
      • Jesus is an exact image of the Father (Heb 1:3), and not some dreamed up divine nature like gold, silver, or stone in an image formed by a craftsman (Act 17:29).  Jesus is holy as His Father is holy.  And we are made holy by the Holy Spirit living in us since our baptism.
      • When Jesus is revealed on the Last Day, we will be revealed with Him in glory (Col 3:4).  We will no longer have these corrupted bodies which break down after repeated use. What we experience now is *not* what God intended when collectively the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit said at our creation - 26 Then God said, “Let Us make mankind in Our image, according to Our likeness…[10] We are experiencing the consequences of the sin of rebellion from God that is in all of us. Rebellion against God is in our nature, even though we have been cleansed of our sins.  That desire to rebel will go away when Jesus reveals Himself and we will be like Him. (Thank God!)
  • Doctrine: Martin Luther wrote a catechism for families to use to learn about the Six Chief parts of Christian doctrine.  The primary way of teaching was to present questions about various aspects of Christian doctrine, and then provide the answers from the scriptures to those questions. One of the Six Chief parts is the Apostle’s Creed.  It is a Creed which has been around since the end of the 1st century.  It was originally learned by adults who were going to be baptized.  They would recite the Apostle’s Creed as an expression of the faith into which they were being baptized.  There are three Articles to the Apostle’s Creed, each Article addressing a specific member of the Trinity.  The First Article of the Creed addresses the work of God the Father.  In this section about the Apostles Creed, Luther asked the question, “Do we still have the image of God?[11]”  This is a good question since after Adam & Eve pulled their stunt of rebellion in the Garden of Eden, we lost the purity in our soul that existed when God created us.  Some religions took the words of God making us in His own image to mean that we all look exactly like Jesus.  That is way too narrow an interpretation of Gen 1:26, because the image God had in mind was the righteousness and perfection that God Himself displays.  If we went with what some religions interpreted about the image of God as being the appearance of God, we would all be transformed into looking like the Ancient of Days!  Does that make any sense?  No; what we will “look” like are the attributes of Jesus such as:
    • Living by faith in Him and not by what we see going on in the world. (2Co 5:7)  For example, with one political party holding a majority in the national legislature and the presidency, it is likely the Equality Act will become law.  What will become of God’s people who will continue to believe, teach, and confess God’s word, particularly regarding sexual deviancy?  I’m sorry, but it is nothing less than sexually deviant as a male for instance to merely state they feel like a female and are therefore entitled by federal law to use the ladies’ room.  Those of the Christian faith know this is wrong, because God made male and female. A person is only one of those two options.  It doesn’t matter how they feel.  Biology set up by God’s divine providence made a person one or the other sex.  If this comes into law, we will have to walk by faith and not what we see even more than we do now.  Women in particular will be targets of these sexual deviants who violate innocent woman with their evil designs.  The Christians of the 1st century had to live by faith, so why not we as well?
    • Another attribute of Jesus we will look like when He comes at the end of this Age is having perfect love for one another.  The Apostle John quoted Jesus as saying during the Last Supper – 34 I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.[12]”  Other people looking on at Christians practicing their faith will see the love that Christians devote to one another.  That will certainly be the way things happen once we are all in heaven, but I wonder if we could do that even here & now?  Jesus went further to define the degree to which we in Christ should love one another - 12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends[13]. Can you imagine looking like Jesus who had that much love for His peeps that He would suggest laying down one’s life for another?  He also practiced what He spoke.
  • Conclusion: Many of the evil developments which have occurred just in a year’s time have really compelled me to plead with Jesus to come, and come soon!  I look forward to the day of Jesus return.  Jesus warned us there will be tribulation. Ever since His ascension into heaven to sit down at the right hand of the Father, there have been 2000yrs worth of tribulation. The day is coming, whether people think so or not, when Jesus will be returning in the clouds with great power and glory. (Mark 13:24-27)  I think everyone will get to see Jesus as He is.  He will look like the Ancient of Days, just in case you’re wondering.
    • Jesus warned His disciples about the tribulation and out of the twelve, only one died of natural causes.  Do not lose heart when threats such as the Equality Act come about.  Do not buy into the lies of Satan and his followers that Jesus is not in charge.  Jesus is, and Satan cannot lie his way out of what’s in store for him throughout eternity.  Satan and his followers know the day is soon when their roaming freely and inflicting evil on God’s creation will end.
      • Until then, threats and tribulations will continue until the end of the Age.  The gospel may get hindered, but it will not be eliminated until everyone has heard. Those who are already blinded to God’s word will not see the light which the gospel brings to souls (2Co 4:1-6).
        • The Psalmist wrote - 15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears are toward their cry for help. 16 The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to eliminate the memory of them from the earth. 17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears and rescues them from all their troubles[14]. This is as true today as it was when this Psalm was written by inspiration some 3000yrs ago.
      • More & more minds will be closed to God’s truth.  We already see this now with the increase of evil in our culture.  But, those in Christ will have minds opened to understand the scriptures – and trust in them (Luke 24:45).  Only God can open a mind to the scriptures, and it is only a hardened sinner who can close their mind to the word of the Lord.  It will *not* be God’s fault on Judgement Day when people come before Him and try to lie or manipulate their way out of hell.  God is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He already provided the free pass to attend the Lamb’s High Feast.  However, there will be millions of people who choose not to attend.
    • Until the end, whether that is by death or Jesus returning in the clouds, live a glad life in His word.
      • Turn from evil and do good.  Seek peace and pursue it (Ps 34:14).  The writer to the Hebrews wrote - 24 and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds[15]…  As mentioned a few moments ago, Christians showing love to one another is a good way to look like Jesus even before He returns to this Age for a second and final time.
      • Put on a new self, which in the image of God was originally created in righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:24).  Let the old Adam in you be drown daily when you wake and remind yourself you are a child of God.  You are a child of God regardless of what is happening in Washington DC, Phoenix, or Rio Rico.  No legislation can take that adoption through Christ away from you.  Only you can exclude yourself from Christ’s love.
    • And lastly, as we wait for Jesus’ triumphant return, let us shine like a star in a crooked and perverse generation.  We need to get things done without complaining or arguing, so that we are proven to be children of God.  By listening to the Word of God and putting that Word into practice, your speech and actions will make you to be a light shining into the darkness of this generation (Phil 2:14-16a).  This is all coming to an end, so be ready to stand up and cheer when you see Jesus returning in the clouds.  That will be a sure sign our salvation is near!  Amen.


 


[1] https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/5/text

[2] https://www.justia.com/employment/employment-discrimination/title-vii/#:~:text=Title%20VII%20of%20the%20Civil%20Rights%20Act%20of,to%20any%20term%2C%20condition%2C%20or%20privilege%20of%20employment.

[3] https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/5/text#H19B897234F694379BB40399FDDEEEE8F

[4] An original translation into English from the mGNT found at https://www.blueletterbible.org/nasb20/1jo/3/1/t_conc_1162002

[5] Gal 3:26-27 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=gal+3&version=NASB

[6] Gal 4:6-7 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians%204&version=NASB

[7] Rev 1:14-16 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rev+1&version=NASB

[8] Source material for the recollection of the raising of Lazarus from the dead found in John 11:1-44

[9] Rom 1:22-23 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rom+1&version=NASB

[10] Gen 1:26a from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=gen+1&version=NASB

[11] Luther, Martin, Small Catechism, Question #124 as translated into English by Concordia Publishing House, St Louis, MO, 2017 p.140

[12] John 13:34-35 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+13&version=NASB

[13] John 15:12-13 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2015&version=NASB

[14] Ps 34:15-17 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ps+34&version=NASB

[15] Heb 10:24 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=heb+10&version=NASB